National count is secure, insists ESO

| 13/10/2010

(CNS): As almost 300 enumerators begin the surveys for the country’s national census the Economics and Statistics office says the process is both safe and secure. Recent changes to the Statistics Law mean that Cayman’s residents can be assured that data gathered by Census 2010 will remain confidential . Despite some concerns raised in the public domain about trusting census workers the ESO said they have been chosen carefully and added that the penalties for breaching the confidence of the survey, as a result of legislative amendments, are now quite sever. The ESO  also noted that there are penalties in the law, as well, to deal with those that refuse to take part in the census.

“The law recognises that our data collection is serious business and must be exclusively used for statistical purposes,” said Economics and Statistics Office (ESO) Director Maria Zingapan. “We have selected our census workers carefully and trained them well to recognise the seriousness of what they can and cannot do.”
Census workers face stiff penalties if they breach the confidentiality oaths that they took to become enumerators. A breach can mean a $5,000 fine and a year’s jail time if convicted in Summary Court. Grand Court penalties are even stiffer, rising to $10,000 and three years’ imprisonment.
The ESO said that all the census workers are aware that leaking or misusing any information is a crime that attracts stiff penalties, particularly in instances where data has been released or used for personal gain. There are further penalties for issuing false data or seeking information unsought in the questionnaires.
The census order and regulations were recently approved by Cabinet to upgrade the legal framework for the ESO to conduct the census, the office explained. Any census worker who comes to your door must carry the three laws and show them as required.
Legally, all completed census forms will be deposited with the Census Office to be entered into the census database as raw statistics. The preliminary count and final reports will emerge from this data. But before that happens, enumerators’ work will be closely monitored by field supervisors who are themselves answerable to area coordinators. They, in turn, are guided by the census manager and her deputy, officials added.
“We looked at every step,” said Census Manager Elizabeth Talbert. “That is why so much effort went into proper training for all, not least for the enumerators who will be conducting the door-to-door count.”
On the other hand the law also considers anyone who might decide to ignore a census worker’s knock which is also a legal breach with its own penalties but the ESO boss said census staff hope for and encourage voluntary participation. “We hope everyone willingly responds to the census questionnaires when the enumerators arrive at their doors,” said Zingapan.
The amended law, census order and regulations are posted on or websites.
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  1. Sarah says:

    Why don’t they set up a call center so that when they knock we can call and check the name of the person at our door to feel satisfied that they are legitimate.  I personally have no concerns about providing my data – but some concerns about my safety….. – It would be nice to be able to put the person on my doorstep on hold which I call to check the legitimacy of their details. 

    If there is a question that I object to I simply won’t answer that one….but I do think that understanding the population is very important to manage and plan resources for the community, or for something like the start up of a small business, to assess the viability of the venture, by having accurate statistics of the market they are planning to reach…..and I am sure for many other reasons….

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am always leery of allowing strangers inside my home, and did feel uncomfortable with having a census worker come in.  However, one arrived at my gate yesterdayevening, and she was very professional.  I wasn’t able to complete the interview when she knocked as I was in the middle of something, and she offered to complete the interview over the phone a little later.  No problem.  

    I do take issue with one of the questions though.  Section I, the Demography section, asks you to identify the "Head" of the household, and all other family members are given a relationship to the Head…spouse/partner, child etc.   My husband and I listed ourselves both as spouse/partners.  What an anachronistic question!  This isn’t 1955!

    In the religion section, you can list "none" and there is also an option for "not stated".  

    I was not entirely comfortable with listing our employers and earnings, but there is a range for the earnings — you don’t have to give a specific number, and realistically, anyone could find out where we work by googling us.  Not much of a secret, really.

    The census worker did not demand entry into my home and would have been happy enough to conduct the interview at our gate had we had time to do so.  She made it very easy for us to complete the interview and was very understanding.  No problems at all.  Yes, I could have done the survey online just as easily, but in the current economic climate, I suppose we might as well pay our local residents than give a lump sum to the owner of a computer company who, as likely as not, would be overseas.

  3. Anonymous says:


    The only information the politicians use in decision making is "what’s in it for us", and they don’t need my help with that one. It is no business of the government or the grocery stores which church I go to and whether I am single or divorced. How is that information relevant to grocery orders?

    The questions that should have been asked were not asked. But you see the government does not want any statistics on how many break-ins there actually are, and how many hold-ups that happen. They don’t want the people to have the opportunity to say what the people feel and the people need.

    If you want to give all that information to the government then you go right ahead. As for me and my family we will retain our privacy.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Given the copious levels of negativity on these threads were I in the position of conducting the census, I would have grave suspicions concerning the accuracy of the information obtained via that format.

    Like it or not one must accept that this is a very private society and work within that framework.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I certainly hope these people will  provide ID’s and  a number to call for verification.

    Last time, after we had completed the forms, my husband and I  arrived home from work to find a car with a female driver parked in front of our house.  When my husband went to investigate, she drove a  little further and stopped again. After some time, he decided to walk over to the car and  she drove away ! He got a description and license number of  the car. We did not call the police but we did advise our housekeeper the next day to call us if she noticed anything  unusual. (We were concerned, but  ten years ago there was very little crime on the island.- Not like it is now).

    That same  morning,  my housekeeper phoned to say that a car fitting the description  we’d given her had driven up on our driveway and  honked the horn! She was outside, so she went to  the car. She was then questioned about  the number of  families living in the house!  I was very alarmed, but  decided to call the census office before reporting it to the Police.  The census office  confirmed that it was one of there staff when I gave them the description and licence number of the car. I told them the census worker was lucky that I had  not called the Police. The lady at the census office was  very apologetic and said  the census worker should have used  her  discretion  and  taken into consideration the area that we live.   

    I certainly hope  they don’t have the same workers this time around.

    And  yes, I’m a Caymanian.

  6. Breadkind says:

    Census is a good thing!!

    My Answer to Despite the Fact- 10/13/2010  12:17

    There isn’t one Census worker who needs your sympathy!!  Why in the world do you feel you have to offer your sympathy to a Census worker.  It would appear that the Census workers have to sympathise with you because you clearly do not understand the logic behind a Census nor should you enjoy the rights and services offered to residents of the Cayman Islands 6 months and under or not.

    Some comments posted about Census and privacy are so weak in thought and have no substance.  And I quote from others, " I will slam the door in the Census worker’s face" , "It’s and invasion of my privacy.!!!"   " I may just print a sign for my front door which says " Everyone n this house is planning to leave within 6 months". Why so hateful, who so full negativety????

    What is it that bothers you so about the Census questions? Is it the fact that you have to tell that you use electricity or you use a private genrator or the that you hold a job or not,  or the fact that you use a private car to get to and from work, or the highest level of education that you hold, or the type of housing you live in, ie apartment, semi-detached housing etc., or even that you have a physical disability.???  Tell me!! What is so private about the information being requested?

    I fail to understand all of the complaints.  Perhaps when you need medical services or require licencing for your car or a passport renewal, there should be a door shut in your face as you are not deserving of services being offered.  It may Breach Your Privacy!!, more so the supermarkets should  decide that they don’t want to offer you groceries to purchase.  I’d like to here your ramble then. Perhaps the Government should decided that the individuals who don’t cooperate with the Census shouldn’t have access to services. I’m sure that this wouldn’t go down so well.

    Information from a Census is used all around the Island by various organisations.  By the Government to plan for services to the community, for the provision of schools, shelters, buses for students etc.  Also by Supermarkets to plan for demand based on migration between districts.

    How else would the information be obtained? Yes there are times when we feel as though services are not sufficient or there could have been more done by those in charge, but as a private citizen, enjoy your right to be counted, be proud that you contribute positvely where possible to the advancement of your Country, no matter how small the task, such as Census participation.

    Be positive, think positive.  Much can be gained both personally and for the Community as a whole. Do Your Part Cayman! Be counted in Census10-10-10.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Who is to say whether someone is in or out, in the bathroom, in bed or anywhere else when there is a knock on the door?  Doesn’t necessarily mean that the door is not been opened purposely…maybe just didn’t hear it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Balony, there is no way you can choose 300 casual workers ‘carefully’  The ESO is stupid to even say this.  The technology to complete this online was available ten years ago.  It would likely have been cheaper to invest in online secure technology whereby people enter this electronically and securely directly into the ESO database.  To employ 300 manual workers is both ludicrous and insecure.  Sorry ESO, I wont be answering the door and there is no law against that!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Who is going to enforce the law if someone refuses to answer the door when a census taker knocks? I think the police have more important things to concern themselves with right now – like catching bank robbers!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Despite the fact that I have sympathy for the people trying to make $30 per house by being census workers, and I am sure most of them are nice people, the questions these people are required to ask are an invasion of privacy.

    As I understand it if you are planning to leave within 6 months you are not required to answer the questions. On that basis if somebody comes to my door I may just spend the time planning to leave within 6 months rather than answering.  I may just print a signfor my front door which says " Everyone n this house is planning to leave within 6 months".

  11. S. Stirrer says:

    lf Mark and Dwayne don’t have to adhere to the law, neither do I.