Archive for January 11th, 2011

University makes last call for spring students

University makes last call for spring students

| 11/01/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The University College of the Cayman Islands in George Town said that it would be accepting new students for the Spring Semester 2011 for all degree programmes, including continuing education and professional courses, until Thursday, 13 January, when registration closes. From hospitality management to computer science, UCCI has a wide range of associate and bachelors degree programmes. The university also offers a range of post graduate programmes, from MBAs to diplomas in education, with evening classes to enable working students to juggle study with their jobs.

Anyone interested in studying at the university can visit or call 623-UCCI (8224) for more information.


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Cops say requests vexatious

Cops say requests vexatious

| 11/01/2011 | 11 Comments

(CNS): The bi-annual report by the Information Commissioner’s Office for the first half of 2010 reveals that the most frequently applied exemption for refusing freedom of information requests was section 9 (a) of the law relating to “vexatious” requests. The report said that this had been used 41 times as grounds for refusal or 30% of all the reasons for turning requests down. Of those 41 it was used 40 times by the police, the ICO revealed, triggering an investigation, the results of which are expected to become public shortly. The second most frequent refusal was section 23(1), the “unreasonable disclosure of personal information”, which was used 37 times by different public bodies and accounted for 27% of the total refusals.

‘This usage is high for these first six months as compared to last year’s figure of 47 over a twelve month period,’ Jennifer Dilbert, the information commissioner, said in the report. She also noted that while there was evidence that authorities have become more familiar with the use of the law, there were still issues with the approach public bodies had towards the culture of freedom of information.

“The continuous thread that seems to run through the application of the law is the public authorities’ tendency to view any potentially controversial information as secret or personal,” Dilbert stated. “Therefore the ICO remains focused on encouraging a cultural shift to reform that way of thinking to one which promotes transparency to the extent that the law allows.”

In the bi-annual round-up of the first half of 2010 the information commissioner reveals that there were a total of 264 access requests made to 53 of the 88 current public authorities, bringing the number of requests since the law came into effect in January 2009 to 1086. Of those 264 requests made in the first half of the year 202 were resolved in that six month period.

Information managers refused requests fora range of reasons, from “no record” to deferrals, with a total of 29 different sections of the law being applied to deny access. However, the exemption that the “Request for record is deemed to be vexatious” was used 41 times.

“40 of these were by the same public authority. Due to the high usage of section 9(a) the ICO (conducted) inquiries with the authority to determine the reasons behind such use,” the report revealed. At the time of the report the case was still open but the office explained on Monday following the tabling of the report in the Legislative Assembly that it has since been closed and the public authority was the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

“The mediation summary for the case will be completed and up on the website in the next couple of days, which will give a better account of why and how the exemption was used,” the office explained.

During the first half of 2010, 10% or 21 of the FOI requests made were also refused or closed as a result of “no records” being found. The commissioner pointed out, however, that this could mean that either the requested records do not exist, or that the requested records could not be located.

Dilbert also noted in her report that in order for her office to assess the system properly it requires the various public authorities to input their FOI related activity into the “JADE” tracking system but human error was causing problems.

“By analyzing these reports the ICO is able to determine how government handles FOI requests in general and identify any systemic issues or issues specific to a particular authority. While the ICO meticulously collates all relevant data, there are several factors which will result in a margin of error in the accuracy of statistical figures. Since the end of 2009, analysis has shown that the main cause for the inaccuracy in statistical reporting is data input errors by the public authorities,” the report revealed.

The commissioner pointed out that, while the errors could be mitigated by liaising with the FOI Unit, which has full access to the JADE system that can provide reports where public authorities fail to do so, it is creating an unnecessary burden on both offices. As a result, Dilbert said, to assist the ICO to meet its obligations under the law the office it should have full read access to the JADE system, which it has not been given.

To read full report, click here and then click on "Bi-Annual Report 1st January – 30th June 2010"

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