Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Media update

National news

Independent - Tanweer was a 'modest and unassuming' pupil
"Shahzad Tanweer, who killed eight people at Aldgate Tube station on 7 July last year, was a model pupil and showed no sign that he might be radicalised into one of Britain's first home-grown bombers, his school record shows. The record, obtained by The Independent under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that English was one of Tanweer's strongest subjects, providing him with the chance to articulate his views, which he evidently relished. He enjoyed studying Romeo and Juliet, contributed well to a "TV debate" on crime and excelled at an assignment examining a newspaper report on violent crime."

Guardian - Oyster data use rises in crime clampdown
"Overall, police have requested to see journey information 243 times, and been given it 229 times, according to figures obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, the Press Association reported."

The Times - Jowell 'misled' secretary on links to Iran
"The Culture Secretary informed Dame Sue Street, her Permanent Secretary, last year that David Mills had resigned as managing director of a firm that was selling £115 million worth of British Aerospace jets to Iran....Yesterday The Sunday Times said that the disclosure, in documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, would add pressure to Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, to begin a full investigation into Ms Jowell’s compliance with the ministerial code."

Daily Telegraph - The number of Paras winning their wings is in free fall
"Figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act show that the number to have successfully completed the parachute course at Brize Norton has plummeted from 92 per cent in 2003 to just under a quarter last year."
The Guardian - Headteachers cold-shoulder trusts scheme
"The government's controversial education reforms have failed to win the backing of headteachers, with just a handful of schools showing any interest in becoming self-governing trusts, according to a document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act."

Sunday Times (scotland) Councils fail to track drug addict parents
"Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that councils have no uniform system of identifying children born to drug addicts and sex offenders. "

Regional news

Suffolk Evening Star - Council disciplinary hearings revealed
"FIVE employees were dismissed by Suffolk County Council last year out of a total of 74 staff disciplinary hearings, it emerged today...The details have been released under the Freedom of Information Act following a request by The Evening Star."

ICSurrey - Evidence suggests ASBOs are working
"Information from Surrey Police shows that, despite growing concerns that ASBOs do not work, just one person out of a selection of 13 cases since August 2003 has breached conditions placed upon them by the authorities."

ICSouthLondon - How safe is you train station?
"CONGRATULATIONS to Canada Water - it is the safest station in South London. According to figures exclusively obtained by the South London Press there was no reported crime there in the whole of 2004. But the rest of the statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act make for less than happy reading."

Norwich Evening news - Royal Mail and the missing money
"Royal Mail bosses have come under fire again just weeks after revelations that six postal workers had been prosecuted for dishonesty....Her comments follow an Evening News Freedom of Information Act request which showed six Norfolk postal workers were prosecuted over the past three years during Royal Mail's clampdown on dishonest employees."

Overseas FOI

Reuters -CIA cited as worst freedom of information agency
"The CIA has the worst record of any U.S. government agency for complying with the Freedom of Information Act, an independent archive that publishes declassified U.S. government documents said on Monday. The National Security Archive at George Washington University named the spy agency as the 2006 recipient of its annual Rosemary Award, which recognizes the poorest performance within the federal government for responses to Freedom of Information Act requests from the public."

USA Today - Survey finds more information kept from public
"Local, state and federal government agencies are keeping more information secret from the public, making it harder for citizens to keep tabs on what elected officials and bureaucrats are doing, an investigation by the Associated Press shows." - Critics say Freedom of Information Act needs reform
"As federal law turns 40 this year, federal agencies seem increasingly reluctant to make their records public."

Australia - Ombudsman criticises FOI delays
"The Commonwealth Ombudsman has criticised excessive delays in responses to Freedom of Information requests and recommended an independent monitor of the system.....He said the government should consider establishing an FOI Commissioner, possibly as a specialised and separately funded unit in the office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman."At present there is no single or authoritative source of advocacy for good FOI practice," he said."

BBC- Indians find information too costly
"When Rakesh Shukla, a poor farmer from the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, asked local authorities for information on paddy field purchases in his area, he was handed a bill for 182,000 rupees ($4,100)."

New vision- ‘Govt to okay access to information soon’
"THE bureaucratic secrecy that has obtained in government for years and has been an impediment to access to information will soon be no more. Information state minister Dr. James Nsaba Buturo announced, “On April 20th, everybody will be entitled to access information in the hands of the State.” Buturo, however, urged the public to be patient saying, “The system is not going to be efficient in one day."

(with thanks to Dave Banisar for some of these international news items)

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