Monday, January 23, 2006

Media roundup

National news

Accountancy Age - NHS financial crisis: 81 investigated organisations revealed
"Names of health trusts obtained under Freedom of Information Act listed. As concerns deepen over the financial crisis within the NHS, Accountancy Age reveals the 81 Trusts and health authorities that were investigated by KPMG's turnaround teams in December."

The Guardian - Next generation of nuclear reactors may be fast tracked
"Documents obtained under freedom of information laws show that British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) wants to restrict the scope of local planning inquiries. Instead it proposes effectively discussing issues such as safety, security and environmental impact behind closed doors."

BBC news - School results kept out of tables
The government is refusing to give schools' English and maths GCSE results to the news media, to prevent their publication in the "league tables". Official tables due out on Thursday will be accompanied by information on English and maths GCSEs - ministers' new benchmark for school attainment.

"More than 250,000 working days were lost due to stress-related illnesses. Around 1,000 officers a day were signed off - although half blamed stress at home and not work. The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed counselling helped officers get back to work."

Observer - BBC boss's £21,000 expenses
"He may earn more than £500,000 a year as the director-general of the BBC but it appears Mark Thompson still likes to look after the pennies. Under the Freedom of Information Act, the BBC released details of Thompson's expense claims for the past year. Totalling more than £21,000, they will no doubt be scrutinised by the corporation's 28,000 employees, one in seven of them facing the axe in cost-cutting ordered by their director-general."

Computer Weekly - Police to store number-plate data for at least two years

Regional news

"In September, schools minister Jacqui Smith announced plans to clamp down on an estimated 8,000 persistent truants. The names of the schools - Matthew Humberstone School, The Immingham School and Hereford Technology School - were released this week after a request to the DfES under the Freedom of Information Act."

Oxford Student - Police called to colleges 350 times in 2004
"Police were called to Oxford colleges on 343 occasions last year, The Oxford Student can reveal. Last month Ian Bartlett was sentenced to 5 years in prison, after being convicted of burgling 20 Oxford colleges. Documents released to The Oxford Student under the Freedom of Information Act reveal all the incidents to which Thames Valley Police officers were called in the past twelve months."

Birmingham Post
- Council bill for rail facts is £9,000
"So many first class rail tickets were issued to officials and councillors last year by Birmingham City Council that the local authority is insisting on a £9,000 administration fee before disclosing its extensive travel arrangements."
Western Mail - Let's see fines for poor information

"Mendip councillors have justified the £100,000 of taxpayers' money paid out for new laptops. The district council has spent £2,000 each on 47 computers which it says is a priority to bring up-to-date email and internet access to the fingertips of councillors...But under the Freedom of Information Act, it was revealed that ten out of the 46 Mendip councillors were refused a laptop."

Overseas FOI

Staroek News - The Guyana Freedom of Information Bill: a crucial opportunity to entrench good governance

Irish Examiner - Health and Safety exemption is a blow to your basic right to know
"Last autumn someone rang the office of Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly and asked staff there why investigations by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) were no longer covered by the Freedom of Information Act. The enquirer was met with by a stone-faced response - the information commissioner’s office was unaware that this change had happened."

Al-Jazeera - US troop numbers under pressure
"Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the number of enlisted personnel leaving the military each year since US President George Bush launched his war on terror has increased from 8.7% in 2002 to 10.5% last year."

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