Updated version of Britdata just published

A new version of my e-book Britdata is available here (£9.99) and on Leanpub (US$11.99 plus VAT). I have updated it with the recently-released population estimates from the Office for National Statistics, as well as information on how GDPR affects subject access requests.

Whether on Leanpub or direct, buyers automatically get updated versions when they come out – I have just sent this new edition to those who had already purchased it – and it comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee. To give you an idea, you can read the introduction here and the list of contents here.

Woman sexually abused by Salvation Army members finally gets justice

Almost 20 years after going to the police, the men who attacked her as a young girl are convicted of offences from the 1970s

This article is a follow-up to an article Saba Salman and I wrote on Lucy Taylor’s story for Society Guardian in 2014.

Update: on 23 April, the three defendents in the trial were sentenced to prison. Philip Worthington was sentenced to eight years and three months, William Russell Tompkinson four years and Trevor Worthington 12 months. Derek Smith, who had earlier pleaded guilty, received a suspended sentence and will undertake 100 hours unpaid work (Lancashire Constabulary press release for details). Continue reading “Woman sexually abused by Salvation Army members finally gets justice”

My new data journalism e-book, Britdata

BritdataIf I have a data journalism specialist subject, it is Britain. Writing about its public sector means finding out how to extract information on it through Freedom of Information, parliamentary written answers and open data on spending; knowing how to use official published data on Britain’s localities; and understanding the often-messy structure of local public services including councils, police, fire and NHS organisations.

I have just published a new e-book, Britdata: Finding data on the UK for journalists, researchers and campaigners, covering these areas and others, including tips on dealing with data and specific information on all of the UK’s top-tier local authority areas. A PDF of the introduction is here with more information here.

Continue reading “My new data journalism e-book, Britdata”

Coxit map: council reorganisation that breaks up Oxfordshire


Oxfordshire is an odd place. The rural district councils are strongly Conservative; Oxford itself is strongly anyone but the Conservatives. The trend in local government is towards unitary councils which do everything, but how would that work in Oxfordshire?

The simplest model would be a unitary Oxfordshire Council (as in Cornwall and Wiltshire), but Oxford and rural Oxfordshire are politically chalk and cheese. The next option would be to turn the city into a unitary and merge the rural districts into one or more unitaries.

However, a plan from Oxfordshire’s five lower-tier councils endorsed by the county’s MPs is a bit more complicated. Oxford City Council would become a unitary and the two districts in the south of Oxfordshire would merge – South Oxfordshire and Vale of the White Horse already share offices and services. Continue reading “Coxit map: council reorganisation that breaks up Oxfordshire”

Good news from government on FoI, too early to say on IP bill

Today saw announcements on two areas of major interest to journalists. One, the report of the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information, is good news. There were expectations that the commission was primed to weaken FoI; it hasn’t, and in fact it recommends ways to strengthen it, including speeding and shortening the appeals process.

The government’s response is also cheering, saying that charges for FoI will not be introduced, as “We believe that transparency can help save taxpayers’ money, by driving out waste and inefficiency”. Well, quite.

On the Investigatory Powers Bill, it’s too early to say. Some of the recommendations in the three parliamentary reports on the draft IP bill have been adopted, including better protection for journalists, but police have also gained further powers.

Continue reading “Good news from government on FoI, too early to say on IP bill”