Public Administration International (PAI) is delighted to welcome groups of office holders and the staff of ombudsman offices to London each year, usually in June, when it’s summer – or supposed to be – in the UK.
Our international workshop, which lasts for a week, was the brainchild of Professor Gavin Drewry, Emeritus Professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, and of Dr Philip Giddings and the late Professor Roy Gregory, both formerly of the University of Reading. It was further developed in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat and launched in 1997. Since then, PAI has run 24 programmes and has been privileged to welcome over 320 participants from nearly 80 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central, Eastern and Western Europe, North, Central and South America, the Middle East and the Pacific.
We aim to attract office holders and their senior staff, as well as people from human rights and anti-corruption organisations, and to provide an opportunity for exchanging information and practical advice. We also do our best to make sure that participants enjoy their time in London together. In our experience, ombudspeople are a friendly lot (at least one pair of delegates met and subsequently married through attending our programme!) and are part of a well-developed worldwide network. Much serious work is done, and many professional experiences are shared – but the atmosphere is always good-humoured and relaxed.
We are proud to have Sir Tony Redmond, former Local Government Ombudsman and past Chair of the Ombudsman Association, as our Workshop Director. Those of you who know Tony will be well aware of his knowledge, wisdom and good humour – a delight to work with and highly respected by our international groups.
The many visits, hosted by the UK ombudsman offices, parliament and other relevant organisations in the UK, are crucial to the success of the programme. Regular visit hosts/contributors have included the offices of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, the Local Government Ombudsman, the Housing Ombudsman Service, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Revenue Adjudicator and the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee. We would like to thank them for their generosity in giving up their time to meet participants and for their unfailing help in sharing a wealth of experience, advice and information.
So what do the participants think? Here are a few observations from our evaluation sessions:
“The programme enhanced my knowledge of the Ombudsman office and its operations and the practical approach greatly broadened my experience. This is because a lot of ideas were shared between different countries”.
Martha Lubemba, Commission for Investigations, Zambia.
“Every session was exactly what I needed.”
Mr. Dumitru Roman
Principal Consultant of the Ombudsperson
Centre for Human Rights of Moldova
“The discussions were enlightening for me as an officer of an independent complaint handling body. It was also interesting to note the threads of commonality between a police complaints body and the Ombudsman’s office”
Senior Legal Officer
Police Complaints Authority, Trinidad and Tobago
“The programme highlighted best practices in my own ombudsman scheme; as well as gave me a better understanding of other schemes with structures that are applicable to mine. I loved the fact that the programme is designed to be interactive.”
Ms Rhona Janette Morgan
The Independent Commission of Investigations, Jamaica
“Invaluable experience shared which could not have come from any book. The facilitating team was fantastic.”
Mrs Festina Shale Bakwena
Ombudsman, Office of the Ombudsman, Botswana
“After this programme I am re-energized to get back home ….. and to get to work.”
Ms Lorna Errar, Deputy Public Defender, Office of the Public Defender, Jamaica
“The programme served to reinforce the techniques of effective complaint handling previously learnt and introduced new methods through the experience of practitioners/ experts in the field.”
Office of the Ombudsman, Trinidad and Tobago
We hope that our workshop goes some way to helping Ombudsman offices across the world to do a good job.
For more information about the workshop please download our When Citizens Complain PDF.