Increase in complaints to Ombudsman since lockdown

In its latest quarterly report, the Office of the Ombudsman said there had been an uptick in the number of complaints it has received since lockdown ended.

The Ombudsman said in its third-quarter report that complaints and enquiries about public sector entities, data protection issues and freedom of information appeals had all increased in July-September.

The public submitted 97 enquiries to the Ombudsman during the third quarter of 2020, compared to 59 during April-June.

Of those, 38 involved data protection, 28 maladministration, 15 freedom of information, 13 police complaints and three whistleblower protection.

Of those, 74 matters were placed under review by office staff during July-September, compared to 46 during the April-June period. Data protection, maladministration and public complaints against police all increased significantly during the third quarter.

“Our staff members remained operational throughout the entire lockdown period, but it’s clear workloads have increased as life here has returned to some semblance of normalcy,” said Sandy Hermiston, Cayman Islands Ombudsman.

In the third quarter, the Ombudsman’s data protection unit recorded more data breach notifications (22) than it had in either of the first two quarters of the year.

Police and maladministration investigators resolved 35 cases during the third quarter, compared to 23 in the second quarter, the report noted.

Of 19 police complaints resolved during between July and September, three were deemed to be non-jurisdictional, one case was considered time-barred, another case was refused, two were abandoned, two were withdrawn, six were resolved informally, and one investigation was supported.

The Ombudsman report also pointed out that more whistleblower complaints were received in the third quarter than the office had seen in the entire first half of the year

“Our office investigates a wide variety of matters, ranging from public complaints against government, to whistleblower complaints, to data privacy issues, to open records disputes,” Hermiston said.

Her office released the latest report on Thursday, 8 Oct., which was International Ombuds Day. “We thought it was a good time to update the Cayman Islands public on our progress,” Hermiston said in a press release.

The release noted that Ombuds Day, which has been marked globally since 2018, “serves to highlight the important services Ombudsman offices provide in their communities, typically free of charge and independent of government or civil society”.

Hermiston said her office’s work was not just about investigations that identify areas for improvement, but was also “about resolving disputes and finding solutions that are acceptable to all parties involved”.

Anyone with questions or concerns about open records, data privacy, public sector complaints or whistleblower matters can phone 946-6283 or email [email protected]. More information can be found at www.ombudsman.ky.

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