Finally — a good example of British journalism using freedom of information requests combined with computer-assisted reporting techniques.

CAR — which clearly needs a new name — is a type of investigative journalism that a recent report suggested is very rarely found in British newspapers.

A group of journalists working for the Times has worked with the Danish Centre for Analytical Reporting to put together a package of stories on the postcode lottery in prosecutions across England and Wales.

One of the journalists who worked on the project, FOI expert Heather Brooke, has an insiders’ guide on how the work was done on her Your Right to Know blog, where she writes:

The reason so much of British journalism is simplistic and polemical is due to the dearth of objective, raw data publicly available. The CPS should be praised for opening itself to public scrutiny in this way, and now that we have some facts, we can begin an informed public debate about the way we want to run our criminal justice system.

This is good news all around. British journalists importing new skills from expert colleagues in other European countries and a public authority that is serious about openness. We usually only hear the usual horror stories about public authorities prevaricating with their responses to FOI requests.