Recovered computer records still missing

The saga of “lost” files of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Marine Unit took a new twist last week when officers noted they still could not open records they believed had been restored following a hard-drive crash.

RCIPS representatives, responding to an open records request filed by the Cayman Compass in February, revealed the problem when information related to the request about Marine Unit patrol boats could not be located.

The RCIPS information manager, Chief Inspector Raymond Christian, reported numerous times that officers were searching for the relevant records sought by the request for the period from Jan. 1, 2011, to Feb. 19, 2014: “All of the watercraft used as part of the Joint Marine Unit’s operations by name of the boat. How many times each of those watercraft have a) broken down, have been damaged or were otherwise found to be deficient and have required repairs or replacement, b) the period of time they were out of service, c) the cost of making the repairs, d) when they were returned to service e) if they were not returned to service, what happened to the watercraft.”

Some of the repair cost information had been provided as part of the request, but Mr. Christian said data related to the time the vessels were out of service was on the government hard drives in the Citrus Grove building that had crashed several times. The last recorded crash occurred in March.

Last Wednesday – eight months after the initial open records request – Mr. Christian updated the situation: “Apparently, all of the Marine Unit’s drives were corrupt, but it is my understanding the Computer Services Department restored those files. I spoke to Inspector Ian Yearwood about the restored files and he advised that they are still having issues opening some of the restored files.

“I understand that the Computer Services Department has been notified of this. The Computer Services Department is only the custodian of RCIPS’s data and they should only access the data when responding to a request from the RCIPS. That being said, because [computer services] is not familiar with the content of RCIPS data, [computer services] relies on RCIPS to notify them of what files were corrupted or missing.”

The March hard drive crash, which affected five drives containing government data, caused the stored data on those drives to be corrupted, officials confirmed.

“A series of hard drive failures occurred on the server, the server itself did not fail,” said Wesley Howell, deputy chief officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs. “The server held data for the RCIPS, specific types and exact number of files that are corrupted are unknown. The file share that has the corrupted files holds 1.2 terabytes of data.” A terabyte is equal to 1,000 gigabytes or 1 trillion bytes of computerized data.

Over a period of months, the Computer Services Department worked to restore the corrupted data and in August reported that all but 10.6 megabytes had been retrieved. The Compass then renewed its open records request for the Marine Unit information, which elicited Wednesday’s response from Mr. Christian. The open records request for the Marine Unit information remained outstanding at press time.

No Tempura records lost

The RCIPS also confirmed Wednesday that no records related to the Operation Tempura police corruption investigation were affected by the hard drive crash.

“It is my understanding that Operation Tempura’s data and the [police] Anti-Corruption Unit’s material were never stored on the government’s server, hence they could not have been corrupt,” Mr. Christian stated.

1 COMMENT

  1. Mistakes happen and I don’t think that it would be fair to condemn the government Computer Services Dept. over this one mistake as they have been in existence for many years and from the outside appear to be running a relatively standard operation. That being said, there does need to be some level of accountability and the government needs to ensure that the necessary policies and procedures are put in place to prevent this type of problem from happening again in the future.

    While some have been calling for the outsourcing of government IT services I question what these individuals actually know about running the type of operation they want to outsource and would caution the government on such a move as we can all clearly see the negative customer service impact that has resulted from outsourcing by other companies in the Cayman Islands.

  2. It would interesting to find out where the Tempura records are actually stored and if any of them actually still exist.

    According to Chief Inspector Christian’s response to one of my FOI requests made in 2010 the records from the early Tempura investigations were transferred to the Metropolitan Police in London. However, shortly afterwards the Met denied this.

    Right now the only Tempura records we know for certain exist are the ones held by Martin Bridger. These are of course the subject of the AG v Bridger court case.

    Where are the rest of them?

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