You are currently viewing Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 21/6/2024 – #FOIFriday

Freedom of Information in the news – week ending 21/6/2024 – #FOIFriday

The last time Labour won a big majority in a general election back in 1997 (just saying, because these things happen), we got the Freedom of Information Act.

I won’t be holding my breath for any improvements to how the FOI Act works after the election as no party has committed to any changes in their manifestos (which at least means they aren’t likely to make it harder to get information).

Acid attacks

Acid attacks and other crimes involving corrosive substances soared by 75% last year – but just 8% of offenders ended up in court, new data suggests.

The figures, obtained through freedom of information requests to all police forces in the UK, show 1,244 offences were recorded in 2023, up from 710 the previous year.

Of those, 454, or more than a third (36%) involved physical attacks, while 790, almost two thirds (64%), included threats of attacks, carrying corrosive substances or other serious crimes – such as rape or robbery – involving acids or alkalis.

Wanted criminals

Thousands of suspects in violent crimes including murder remain at large months or even years after they were wanted by police.

New data released by police forces across the UK has revealed 5,306 suspects for recent and historical crimes remain at large. Just over 3,000 of the warrants from the 24 police forces that responded to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, sent by the Mirror, have been outstanding for more than nine months.

Some of the country’s largest forces, including Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire Police, did not respond to the FOI request so the nationwide numbers will be significantly higher. On Merseyside, 83 suspects for violent crimes remain at large, with 51 of them being suspected of offences dating back over nine months.

Attacked and needing an ambulance

Paramedics were called 382 times to help assault victims in the city between January and May this year, an average of 15 a week if divided across the 24 weeks. According to the Freedom of Information request to the service, 13 of the 382 attacks were Category 1 callouts, meaning victims were left with life-threatening injuries.

Across the five months, the B21 area covering Handsworth recorded the most assaults, according to the data. A total of 21 victims were attacked, one suffering life-threatening injuries, 15 were seriously hurt and a further five were injured.

Losing their licence

A Freedom of Information request revealed that in the past ten years, 646,972 drivers have had their licences taken away for medical reasons.

It is illegal to drive if your eyesight worsens after passing your test, and you can face prosecution. The DVLA website further cautions that failing to inform the DVLA of any changes in eyesight or existing medical conditions could result in a fine of up to £1,000 and points on your licence.

XL Bullies

It is now illegal to own an XL Bully without a certificate of exemption. The ban on the breed was introduced on February 1, after a number of fatal attacks across the UK.

A freedom of information request made by The Spectator to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, has revealed where the 50,000 registered XL Bully dogs live in England and Wales. In Herefordshire, they’re most likely to live in the SG1 postcode, with 63 approved applications.

Children’s hospices

Together for Short Lives also made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to integrated care boards (ICBs), which 40 out of 42 responded to.

Based on the information shared, the charity estimated ICBs spent an average of £145.16 for every case of life-limiting conditions in patients aged zero to 24 in their local area, a fall of 5% compared to the previous 12 months.

It also revealed ICB funding varied by as much as £366 per child in 2023/24.

Environmental incidents

The Environment Agency has been late to attend most serious pollution incidents over the past five years, according to an analysis by Greenpeace.

The environmental group’s investigation unit Unearthed obtained data on the agency’s attendance at pollution incidents between January 2017 and October 2023 under freedom of information (FOI) laws.

It found that the regulator has failed to meet its own response time targets for around three-quarters of England’s worst pollution incidents, which include major sewage, oil and slurry spills.

Image by Jess Loiterton on Pexels

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