Ombudsman details top cases for 2019
The Bermuda Ombudsman’s office dealt with matters last year including the handling of senior abuse complaint handling, public bus schedule communications, and delayed applications for criminal injuries compensation.
The details came in the 2019 report, given to the House of Assembly by Victoria Pearman, the Ombudsman, who highlighted some of the year’s successes.
According to the report, there was “improved follow-up on senior abuse complaint handling”.
Public transport authorities “acknowledged that alternative ways of communicating public bus service cancellations and delays were required for true accessibility”.
Concerns over delays by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board in processing applications were flagged up by the report, which resulted in a streamlining of its work through legislative changes.
The Bermuda Ombudsman’s office dealt with 299 complaints last year, completing 255 by the year’s end, and has fielded 2,340 complaints since opening in 2005.
The Department of Corrections stood out as having the most cases, at 55.
Ms Pearman wrote that “prison and custodial complaints tend to make up a significant portion of total complaints received in ombudsman offices in other jurisdictions”.
It was followed by the Bermuda Hospitals Board, at 12, and the Bermuda Police Service and Department of Financial Assistance, at 11 each.
Recommendations from the Ombudsman were made to the Department of Immigration to improve passport applications, and for the Department of Education to improve the handling of complaints, as well as its record-keeping.
The education department was also suggested to update its compliance with the national policy on disabilities.
Ms Pearman wrote that access to justice remained a concern for her office, with legal costs “beyond the reach of many working people” and legal aid not always available.
She added: “As Ombudsman, my duty is to protect the interests of the public to ensure fair treatment in the provision of public services.
“In doing so, we prioritise safeguarding the needs of the most vulnerable.
“Some of the people we have assisted this reporting year include the elderly and young in care; persons with physical and mental health challenges; children with special educational needs; the indigent; the unsheltered and people who have lost their liberty.
“These are areas where systems have not always provided what was needed.”
•To read the Ombudsman’s report for 2019 in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.
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