Crime victims failed by body

  • No response: Puisne Judge Nicole Stoneham (File photograph)

The government body set up to compensate victims of crime failed to fulfil a “basic obligation” to respond properly to a public access to information request, according to a decision issued yesterday by Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez.

The Royal Gazette submitted the request to the publicly funded Criminal Injuries Compensation Board in May this year, seeking records showing its backlog of cases and minutes of its meetings.

The board shared some information in June, but the newspaper was not satisfied with the extent of the disclosure, so appealed the matter to Puisne Judge Nicole Stoneham, chairwoman of the board.

Mrs Justice Stoneham did not respond to the appeal within the six-week statutory time frame and has yet to do so.

Ms Gutierrez wrote that her decision did not address whether the board had properly denied access to the records, but “addresses the basic obligation upon a public authority to respond to a requester within the statutory time frames”.

She added: “It is a matter of fact that the board did not provide the applicant with an internal review decision within the statutory time frame. The Information Commissioner is satisfied that the board failed to comply with ... the Pati Act.

“The Information Commissioner recommends that the board consider whether it is appropriate to apologise to the applicant for its failure to comply with the statutory timescale for responding ...”

She ordered the board to issue a response by December 12 or face having her decision enforced in the Supreme Court.

A Court of Appeal judgment from November last year said the CICB had a “serious backlog” of compensation claims and the body is now under investigation for possible maladministration by Victoria Pearman, the Ombudsman.

To view the Information Commissioner’s decision, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”