In the past week more than 300 Freedom of Information requests made via WhatDoTheyKnow.com resulted in information being released. Volunteer Molly Williams has pulled out a few highlights:
Flight paths over London
One user of our service noticed an increased number of flights within the vicinity of South Norwood and asked the Civil Aviation Authority for a map of the flight paths over London and for information on recent changes.
The requested maps were provided and the request-maker was advised to contact Heathrow and London City Airports to seek more information about any changes to their operations.
Overdue library fines
After being chased by the Information Commissioner, the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts revealed it took in £2,169.20 from payment of fines for overdue library books in 2015/16; the money is set to be re-invested into learning resources.
The requestor has made a similar request to many universities.
In Barnsley, 69 dogs were put down between April 2016 and April 2017, with two enforcement notices issued regarding dogs without microchips.
James Jones, who made this request, has asked for similar information from a number of other councils in the area.
Number of homeless youth under 25 in Sheffield
Statistics on the number of people aged 16-25 found to be homeless by Sheffield City Council have been released. The council didn’t directly answer a request for the average waiting time for homeless youth to be housed but stated: “Our target is to rehouse any person to whom we have a full duty towards within 12 weeks, and this is rarely exceeded.”
|Overall : 294|
Spending on agency teachers
Spending on agency workers in every Nottinghamshire Primary School in 2016/17, and the number of pupils at each school was revealed, and showed Chilwell School, with 759 pupils, spent the most on agency supply staff at £229,074.49.
Is a high level of spending on agency supply staff something to be concerned about? We at WhatDoTheyKnow don’t have the information and background knowledge to put these figures into context but they, and the fact they’re accessible under FOI, might be of interest to school governors, parents, councillors, supply staff and agencies.
North Wales Police have two drones ready to be deployed for incidents such as searching for missing people, demonstrations, surveying crime scenes, festivals and sports events, image capture, armed support, and policing collision scenes.
The force’s response reveals their drones have not yet been used operationally.
Find out if your police force is using drones, and perhaps whether doing so has reduced their spending on helicopters, by looking to see if the information is already on WhatDoTheyKnow — and if not, request it yourself.
Moreton railway crossings
On multiple occasions when I visited Moreton level crossing in Dorset I noticed that the time taken from the barriers closing to the train passing is considerably less than other level crossings on the same line; what is the reasoning for such a short time?
Their response was:
In short the time difference between Moreton and other crossings is down to the fact that they are different types of crossing.
The crossing at Moreton is what is termed an ‘automatic half barrier crossing’. Such crossings operate much more quickly than full barrier crossings since they rely on the train hitting a treadle (a device that detects that a train axle has passed a particular location) on the approach to the crossing to start the barriers’ descent. Since these are half rather than full barriers anyone or anything on the crossing at the time the barriers come down can still exit the crossing. Full barrier crossings do not work on the same automated system but instead require a signaller to monitor the crossing (either on site or via CCTV at a signal box). It should be noted that the risk associated with half barrier crossings is much greater than that associated with full barrier crossings and, in consequence, their use is limited to only quieter roads.
Injuries to people at time of arrest
Staffordshire Police released information by request showing that 26 allegations were made by people who stated they had been injured while in police custody or at the time of arrest. Of those incidents, two resulted in fractured limbs.
Number of delayed FOI requests
And finally, another FOI request via WhatDoTheyKnow revealed how many FOI responses to Somerset County Council had been delayed in the past three years.
‘We do not record the number of requests that have been delayed, but instead record the number of requests that have not been sent out within the 20 working day deadline.’
|Period||Number of requests received||Number of requests on time||Percentage of requests on time||Number of requests not sent out within 20 working day deadline|
|01/04/2014 to 31/03/2015||1307||756||57.84%||551|
|01/04/2015 to 31/03/2016||1192||692||58.05%||500|
|01/04/2016 up to 31/03/2017||1219||772||63.33%||447|
The law requires Freedom of Information requests to be responded to promptly. If you’re not happy with the responsiveness of your local public bodies you could write to your elected representatives; mySociety’s service WriteToThem.com can help you.
We hope this post gives you a taste of the kind of information which can be obtained under Freedom of Information law. If you would like information like this from your own local public bodies then first check WhatDoTheyKnow and if it has not already been requested you can make a request yourself.
We’re keen to make a round-up of interesting releases like this a regular feature. If you’ve spotted information released via WhatDoTheyKnow which you think we should note in our next post then do let us know either on Twitter where we’re @WhatDoTheyKnow or via our contact form.