Our first Newsletter was very well received; I wish to thank all those who sent us encouraging messages.
I hope that you enjoy this newsletter and would encourage you to visit our website at www.ombudsman.org.gi
Our Annual Report for the year ending 31st December 2011 will soon be laid in Parliament, after which it will be made public. It is hoped that, as in previous years, we shall once again be distributing copies of our Annual Report from outside Parliament soon after it has been laid in Parliament. Copy of the Report will also be made available to download electronically from our website.
New Senior Investigating Officer/Legal Adviser appointed
Nicholas P. Caetano has been appointed as Senior Investigating Officer/Legal Adviser to this office following the departure of Mark C. Zammit.
The Ombudsman has described Nicholas as “a respected barrister of 12 years call with wide ranging experience and a solid background in private practice, whose expertise will serve the functions of this office well.”
Nicholas commenced employment with us on the 2nd April 2012. In addition to his functions as investigator and adviser on Gibraltar based issues of potential maladministration, he has also been appointed Liaison Officer for both the European Network of Ombudsmen and the British and Irish Ombudsman Association, with a view to further developing the existing flourishing relationship the Gibraltar Public Service Ombudsman’s office enjoys with our international counterparts. As part of the exercise, Nicholas will be attending numerous conferences this year as the Ombudsman’s representative.
The Ombudsman would like to record his sincere thanks to the selection board that carried out the interviews. All the candidates were well suited for the post which made the selection all the more difficult.
The Ombudsman together with our Public Relations Officer and the Selection Board Members
Ombudsman Radio Talks
Our Public Relations officer Nadine Pardo-Zammit gave her fourth radio interview last week on the Principles of Good Administration.
The Ombudsman promotes six Principles of Good Administration instructing public bodies that fall under its jurisdiction on how they should deliver good administration and customer care. These Principles were compiled by the Parliamentary & Health Ombudsman in the United Kingdom following similar principles published by the European Ombudsman which have been in use since 1998.
These principles remind public bodies to act according to the laws and policies in place. They stress the importance of being customer focused and being open and accountable.
The Principles of Good Administration also encourage fairness and proportionality mainly through the impartial treatment of customers as well as promoting an effective internal complaints procedure within the public bodies themselves.
Nadine stressed that as of October 2010 senior heads of Departments had been invited to attend a presentation at the Office of the Ombudsman and that so far 12 had attended the presentation and benefited from discussing these issues with the Ombudsman.
Consecutively, an open invitation was also offered to the Head of the entity for his or her Front- Line Staff to hear the presentation and learn about the Principles, yet to date; only one Government Department has made arrangements for their Front-Line Staff to hear the presentation. It is however still hoped that this offer will be taken up in the future.
On 19th April 2012 the Gibraltar Public Services Ombudsman Office hosted the 10th meeting of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association ‘First Contact’ Interest Group at the Gibraltar London House at the Strand, London.
Representatives from ombudsman schemes included the Local Government Ombudsman Office, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, as well as eleven other Ombudsman schemes.
All attendees were formally welcomed by the Gibraltar Public Services Ombudsman, Mr Mario Hook, who opened the meeting with a Power Point presentation, giving a brief over-view of life in Gibraltar, and a synopsis of the workings of the Gibraltar Public Services Ombudsman Office.
The Ombudsman then left the group to allow for the meeting to continue with its agenda.
Nadine is pleased to report that the meeting went extremely well with all 22 attendees sharing valuable information about their experiences and working methods at the front office.
Gibraltar Public Services Ombudsman Office hosted the 10th meeting of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association ‘First Contact’ Interest Group at the Gibraltar London House
The Gibraltar Public Services Ombudsman will shortly be attending the British & Irish Ombudsman Association Bi-annual Conference in Belfast on Thursday 17th May and Friday 18th May 2012.
The Senior Investigating Officer will be attending a Mediation Practitioner’s Course being held in London at the Golden Cross House. The course is run by UK Mediation. Without doubt this course will serve to further augment the level of service provided by our office.
Statistical Information - 1st Quarter 2012
This first quarter of 2012 (1st January to 31st March 2012) we have received 36 complaints and 19 enquiries in our office. From the 36 complaints we received, 5 were against private organisations that fall outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. This left a total of 31 complaints received against government departments, agencies and other entities which fall under our jurisdiction. The Housing Authority attracted 32% of all the complaints received within the first three months of 2012. There were also 5 complaints against the Civil Status and Registration Office and the Department of Social Security which comprises 16% of the 31 complaints we received against government departments, agencies and entities in this first Quarter. (See Chart 1 below)
Ombudsman website and social networks
Our website keeps on providing wealth of information to internet users. In January 2012 we had 2751 visitors; in February, 2550 and in March 3377; that is an average of 2892 visitors per month. 93.5% of the visitors are new users; therefore the remainder (6.5%) are returning visitors.
In the 1st Quarter of 2012 we have attracted 579 visits from Gibraltar, an average of 193 visitors per month and interesting to note that we receive an average of 4 page views per visitor from Gibraltar which signifies that they browse further, rather than just the random click visit.
Following from our first newsletter on how to improve the dissemination of information about our office we are actively publishing information about us on our Facebook page and also Tweeting the latest news of our work in the office. One of our goals is to facilitate website users with as much information about our work as possible by making it available to them in their preferred choice of access. We have an increasing number of Facebook and Twitter followers and we hope that we keep on having more followers on our social network sites so that they can link up to our website and use it as an open portal to find out about our work, our investigations and if the need arises, for submitting their complaints online
Mario M Hook
Gibraltar Public Services Ombudsman