FOI Disclosure Stories 11 – 17 May 2009

Treasury bungle on pension fat cats – The Times 16/05/09
“The number of savers who could be caught out by the government’s £1.75m cap on pensions is nearly five times higher than the Treasury initially predicted. Figures obtained from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) under the Freedom of Information Act show that 22,719 people have received protection certificates to avoid a 55% tax on their pension saving above the cap. The Treasury at first claimed that only 5,000 individuals would be affected by the cap, but it later admitted the number could be as high as 10,000.”

Some monsters have been missing for almost four years – News of the World 16/05/09
“Police have lost track of more than 300 sex beasts and paedophiles, a News of the World investigation has revealed. Staggeringly, some monsters have been missing for almost FOUR YEARS – even though cops are supposed to keep tabs on sex offenders, ranging from rapists to child molesters, once they are freed. We asked all 52 British constabularies to reveal the figures under the Freedom of Information Act. But, despite being chased for two months, 16 didn’t reply.”

Big Brother goes digital with IP CCTV – IT PRO 14/05/09
“Half of city councils have moved their CCTV to IP systems, letting more real-time applications be used by police and other government agencies. According to numbers obtained by network firm Telindus via a Freedom of Information Request, half of city councils have digitised some of their CCTV – with a third doing so over the past four years. Telindus suggested IP-based cameras allow police to use real-time applications, such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition, and to get up-to-date photos on their mobile computers.”

PCTs spent £8.2m on suspended GPs in three years
– Health Service Journal 12/05/09
“Primary care trusts have spent at least £8.2m over the last three years paying 134 GPs who were suspended pending investigations into complaints about their conduct. The figure was revealed through Freedom of Information requests made by the Liberal Democrats. Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb said the system for investigating complaints needed to be speeded up urgently. GPs who are suspended continue to receive 90 per cent of their salary. PCTs also need to fund the cost of locums to cover their workload, which will add to the £8.2m cost as that only accounts for GP salaries.”

Missing… from afar
– BBC 12/05/09
“Nearly 500 Britons went missing abroad last year, according to figures obtained by the BBC. Many were found alive within days, some were discovered dead, but for lots of families it is a story without an ending… Foreign Office records, released to the BBC News website under the Freedom of Information Act, showed 145 Britons were missing abroad at the end of 2008. Many had disappeared years earlier – their cases still unsolved. The figure may not sound a lot but for every individual there is a family in torment, treading water, unable to get on with their lives.”


First new coal mine for Notts in 45 years?
– Nottingham Evening Post 16/05/09
“A new opencast coal mine is being investigated for Notts – the first in 45 years. A letter obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveals UK Coal has carried out ‘preliminary work’. British Coal is considering a new planning application to dig up coal from a 374-acre site known as Shortwood Farm, between Cossall and Trowell. Campaigners, who have seen off two previous attempts since the early 1990s to create an opencast mine on the site, fear it will scar the countryside, disrupt communities and pollute the environment.”

Five seconds to cross the road – thelondonpaper 15/05/09
“One in five pedestrian crossings in London does not give pedestrians enough time to cross, research has shown. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show 472 crossings in the capital endanger pedestrians because some can be safe to cross for as little as five seconds. A typical traffic light crossing should give 12 seconds between the green man going off and the green light for cars coming on, according to Government guidelines.”


Highland fly-tippers escape justice as waste piles soar – Press and Journal 11/05/09
“Fly-tipping is going unchecked in the Highlands, with just two perpetrators brought to book in two years, despite almost 4,500 reports of rubbish being dumped illegally. Freedom of information figures obtained by the Press and Journal show there were 4,484 reports of fly-tipping between April 2007 and March this year. In that period, nine £50 fixed-penalty notices were issued after the waste was traced back to the fly-tipper who dumped it, but only two have been paid.”

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