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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Parliamentary Committee reports on consultations with NSW Ombudsman

The NSW Parliamentary Committee on the Ombudsman and the Police Integrity Commission has published its report on its most recent hearings concerning the operations of the Ombudsman’s Office. There isn’t much here about FOI – simply justification for the Deputy Ombudsman’s involvement on the basis that this ensures access to senior agency officials during the investigation and resolution of complaints; and the continuing optimism by the Ombudsman that the (1994) Premier’s Department FOI Procedure Manual will be updated by the end of the year – I think this was meant to be 2005 but it still is yet to appear.

The major issue in the report is that the Committee plans further hearings into the Ombudsman’s statement that important activities are constrained by the 3.5% budget cut last year and the unfunded increases in salaries.

On a broader note the Ombudsman’s Office has told the Committee of its deep concern about Police record keeping practices and the operation and capability of the COPS database, the main system for tracking incidents and investigations.

As personal information held by the Police Service in connection with the conduct of its core functions is not subject to the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act, it’s a bit of a worry.

The Committee was also told that the Independent Commission Against Corruption failed to pass on to the Ombudsman 600 complaints received about Police conduct, sure now to produce a spike in the Ombudsman’s police complaint register.

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