FOI Disclosure Stories May 26th- June 13th

Thousands of children held in police cells overnight – Guardian 13/06/11
At least 53,000 children under the age of 16 were held overnight in police cells in 2008 and 2009, including 13,000 children aged between nine and 13, according to figures obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform from half the police forces in England and Wales.

Foreigners pay £1m for NHS liver operations – The Sunday Times 12/06/11 (subscription only)
A hospital in the National Health Service has been paid more than £1m in the past two years for carrying out private liver transplants on foreigners using scarce organs donated by British patients. King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, in London, was paid £1,082,064 for 22 private liver transplants on foreign patients between January 2009 and February 2011, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Vulnerable pupils are most likely to suffer expulsion
– Your Ashford 12/06/11
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that of 168 secondary school youngsters who were permanently excluded in the county of Kent last year, more than half had been assessed as needing close attention due to learning problems such as autism and dyslexia.

MoD Report Sparks Nuke Safety Fear – The Sunday Post 12/06/11 (subscription only)
A damning MoD report has said the future safety of the UK’s nuclear defence programme is being jeopardised by spending cuts. The report by the MoD’s internal watchdog the Defence Nuclear Environment Safety Board was released under Freedom of Information. Read the article in The Herald.

No home to call their own – Inside Housing 10/06/11
The number of homeless households in England is set to jump dramatically this week as councils publish their official figures. Freedom of information requests by Inside Housing, which obtained the figures ahead of their expected publication on Thursday, reveal that 37 out of the 51 councils who provided figures for 2010/11 saw homelessness increase.

More than 70 per cent of NHS trusts break rules to deny IMF – and save money – The Independent 07/06/11
Women unable to conceive naturally are being denied IVF on the NHS because they are too young, too old, too fat, smoke or live in Wales – in flagrant breaches of the guidelines. The information was disclosed after the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility sent Freedom of Information requests to all 177 PCTs in England and Wales in March and received 171 replies.

Architects net £98m from schools – The Sunday Times 05/06/11 (subscription only)
Architects have claimed nearly £100m in fees from just 21 councils under Labour’s multi-billion-pound school-building programme, newly disclosed figures show. The architects’ fees were revealed after a freedom of information request by the Conservative party. Read the story on the Conservatives website.

HMRC launched 9,368 investigations into inheritance tax valuations over the last year – UHY Hacker Young 06/06/11
HMRC collected £70 million of additional tax by challenging the valuations of properties included in the estate of a deceased person in 2010. A freedom of information request obtained by accountants UHY Hacker Young has revealed that HMRC examined 9,368 inheritance tax valuations over the last year and has raised an average of £24,000 per case in additional tax.

Did sports club members jump the housing queue?
– This is Nottingham 02/06/11
An investigation by the Post has revealed that some members of a city sports club may have received preferential treatment in the allocation of council houses. Using leaked housing records and requests under the Freedom of Information Act, the Post has identified eight players and their families who received offers for a total of 18 properties during two-and-a-half years from late 2002 to 2005.

Shock figures that spell out the extent of London’s reading crisis – The Standard 01/06/11
Data obtained by the Standard show as many as one in three children in parts of the capital lags behind – far worse than was first feared. The figures reveal the extent of the literacy crisis in London, with many state schools failing to give children the most basic of life skills. The statistics, uncovered after a five-month freedom of information battle, led parents and experts to call on the Government to tackle the scandal.

Trafficked children condemned to a nightmare by state neglect – The Observer 28/05/11
Thousands of trafficked children are being abused and murdered by their captors, but UK officials remain indifferent and skeptical. A freedom of information request revealed that 173 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, all vulnerable to traffickers, went missing from Kent council’s care homes in 2009.

Trust me, Cable tells arms trade, I sold weapons to Latin America – The Times 30/05/11 (subscription only)
Vince Cable’s days as a young diplomat were spent as an arms broker helping to sell British-made weapons to one of the world’s most unstable regions. In a private speech to a symposium of arms exporters in London last November, a copy of which has been obtained by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act, Dr Cable set about calming nerves among the industry that his past stance against arms exports would make him queasy about fighting their cause abroad.

Councils spend £100m on taxpayer funded credit cards
– The Telegraph 31/05/11
Councils have spent tens of millions of pounds on taxpayer-funded credit cards with local authority executives and councillors treating themselves to first-class travel to foreign destinations and stays in five-star hotels. The Daily Telegraph has obtained details of credit card spending at 186 councils across Britain using Freedom of Information laws.

UK trained Bahraini army officers even after crackdown began – The Independent 30/05/11
Britain continued to train Bahraini army officers at Sandhurst months after the Gulf state began its brutal crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators, it was disclosed yesterday. Five Bahraini officers were receiving tuition at the élite military academy in Surrey as recently as last month, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

UK training Saudi forces used to crush Arab spring – The Observer 28/05/11
Britain is training Saudi Arabia’s national guard – the elite security force deployed during the recent protests in Bahrain – in public order enforcement measures and the use of sniper rifles. In response to questions made under the Freedom of Information Act, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed that British personnel regularly run courses for the national guard in “weapons, fieldcraft and general military skills training, as well as incident handling, bomb disposal, search, public order and sniper training”.

Waste Watch: Councils Spend Millions On Away Days – 26/05/11
A Sky News Waste Watch investigation reveals local authorities spent more than £2 million on away days over the last two years, as Britain plunged into recession. Using Freedom of Information legislation, Waste Watch contacted every council in Britain for details of spending on team-building trips, away days and ‘brainstorming’ sessions.

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