what does the government spend money on?
It's an innocent enough question: What does the government spend money on? Now, I'm not an accountant and I'm not a statistician and personally I don't have a political axe to grind, I just want some answers to this question that make sense. This attitude gives me a lot of freedom: I don't have to get bogged down in any system of understanding spending unless it really helps. But this attitude also gives me a lot of opportunity, because I'm effectively feeling my way around this unfamiliar financial and political world, pushing for information that may or may not be useful in the end, asking questions that must seem really stupid to experts. But what does the Government spend money on?
Police State UK: open source citizen journalism
Helen Lambert & Denny de la Haye
Police State UK is a news and opinion website covering UK civil liberties (politics, policing, and the sometimes worrying relationship between them). The website runs on an open source content management system called YAWNS, written in Perl and running on Linux and Apache. We have an open content policy, encouraging readers to contribute articles. Although most of the content is written by us, we have had some excellent contributions from others - including articles from serving politicians and practising lawyers. We also run a successful Twitter account - probably more successful than the website itself in fact, with over 5,000 followers and counting. Recent events have seen us publishing a lot of articles on the right to protest, but we've also covered subjects such as ID cards, DNA retention, RIPA, CCTV and more - our areas of interest are broad, and we're particularly interested in how many of these issues seem to come back to similar attitudes on the part of the state. We report what's happening in Parliament, on the streets, and in posh Westminster policy seminars (we're still not sure how we got on that invite list).
"Ignorance of the law is no excuse". Yet, despite advances in opening up statute law, case law - which interprets frequently vague legislation and sets binding precedents - remains strangely limited in its availability. This project works to make case law genuinely accessible and usable. It also creates a platform for investigating case law as data: what can we uncover about the quality of legislation, or the likelihood of judicial error? In this way we hope to shine a light into some of the dark and dusty corners of the British justice system.
21st May 2011