Government of Jersey in hot water as it sends letters to the deceased
13 August 2020
The Government of Jersey was recently left red faced after it mistakenly sent 450 letters to people that had passed away.
The letters, which were signed by the Treasurer of Jersey, explain how proposed changes to the income tax system could be implemented as early as this year. It would see islanders pay based on their current yearly earnings, rather than those of the previous year.
However, for many the letter dealt a double blow. Not only were hundreds addressed to the deceased, but they also referred to recipients by their first name which caused great offense, particularly amongst older residents. In one case the letter started “Dear The Late Mildred”.
The Constable of St Saviour Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard described it as "disgusting" and said some of her parishioners had been "very upset". And Jersey politician, Deputy Montfort Tadier took to Twitter to describe the letters as "paradoxically impersonal and over-familiar, as well as insensitive”.
The undersigned, Deputy Susie Pinel said: "I'd like firstly to apologise unreservedly to islanders who were distressed by receiving letters addressed to their deceased relatives, and to also apologise to islanders who were upset by the use of their first names, as I would be myself.
"When we send out letters to islanders, we rely on a database of information to ensure that letters are sent to the correct people.
"In this instance, the names and addresses that were taken from the database were not cross-checked."
Once again, this mistake shows how damaging it is to fail to sufficiently cleanse data. For brands our research shows that the practice of mailing the deceased can lead to significant loss of earnings, but for the Government it can undermine their governance. Whilst Jersey is not bound by GDPR, it has enacted legislation to mirror the enhanced requirements of the GDPR by launching Data Protection Authority (Jersey) Law 2018 and the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018 (‘the DPJL’) which came into force on 25 May 2018. This means that organisations are required to keep their data as up-to-date and clean as possible/ Deceased suppression products such as Mortascreen are a cost effective and efficient way to minimise distress to the bereaved and demonstrate commitment to data protection compliance.