The International Ombudsman Institute and the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman recently held a joint conference in Belfast to explore best practice in the exercise of ‘Own Initiative’ investigation powers.
Cyprus Ombudsman, Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights Maria Stylianou Lottide was present at the conference which was held over two days and attracted practitioners, academics and interested parties from around 30 countries.
At the event IOI President, and Ombudsman and Information Commissioner for Ireland, Mr Peter Tyndall launched the third IOI Best Practice Paper on Own Initiative Investigations. In his presentation he noted how the power to conduct these type of investigations without receiving specific complaints can enable an Ombudsman to shine some light on those issues which would not otherwise be subject to public scrutiny.
Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman Marie Anderson provided an overview of the event’s themes, which included an address on how her own office has developed criteria for launching an investigation. Having only recently received own initiative powers she spoke about how details of her first investigation will be announced in the near future.
Other sessions included how to choose a subject for an ‘OI’ investigation, how to take a human rights based approach, and a discussion on the value of such investigations.
Common themes running through the discussions were the need to choose an issue that is manageable within the resources available, deciding who the audience is, planning and conducting an investigation effectively, and finally launching the report for maximum impact.
Colleagues interested in the event but who were unable to attend will be able to view all of the conference on video. A transcript of the conference will also be released. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Source: Office of the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman, UK