The Parliamentary Ombudsmen (JO) are appointed by the Swedish Riksdag (parliament) to ensure that public authorities and their staff comply with the laws and other statutes governing their actions.
A woman, born in 1937, was granted assistance in the form of a nursing home with home-help service. She lived in her own apartment at the nursing home in accordance with a special rental contract. The rental contract was accompanied by a right to spend time in the nursing home’s common areas. The question in the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s case is whether the administration had reason to notify the woman that she was not permitted to use her tablet for video calls in the nursing home’s common areas due to the rules of order that applied for the nursing home.
When several people live in a housing unit, it may in the view of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen be necessary for several reasons to have certain rules of order regarding the common living environment, which among other things aim to create security and comfort for all who live there. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen therefore see no inherent obstacle to certain rules of order being set up for common areas at a housing unit.
In the assessment of whether the administration had reason for its notice to the woman, one must take into account the woman’s strive to live like anyone else to the furthest extent possible and her right to self-determination, as well as the justified interest of the respect for the integrity of other residents.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen state that, depending among other things on individual needs and wishes of the elderly and the structure of the premises, it should be possible to find practical solutions without disregarding any of the above interests.
In light of this, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen doubt that the woman was entirely prohibited as a result of the municipality’s rules of order from making video calls on her tablet in the nursing home’s common areas. The administration should have reasonably been able to arrange the matter so that the woman could have made her calls without it entailing any conflict with other interests in the operations. However, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen do not consider there to be adequate reason to express any criticism against the administration.
A woman had been taken into custody for intoxication and asked to use the toilet. The staff in the police jail directed her to pee in a hole in the floor which had no possibility of flushing afterwards. The primary reason for this was a local procedure at the jail according to which detained persons are normally not taken out of the cells for toilet visits between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. In its decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman stated that such a procedure is unacceptable and is also incompatible with how a person taken into custody in a police jail ought to be received and treated. The Parliamentary Ombudsman criticizes the Swedish Police Authority for directing the woman to relieve herself in a hole in the floor when she had asked to use the toilet.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman also states that the right of a detained person to use a toilet may need to be restricted in some circumstances, for example if the detained person’s condition is such that he or she cannot be taken to a toilet, and that it is acceptable that a detained person may sometimes have to wait to visit the toilet if this is necessary for security reasons, or due to the workload of the jail guards. However, the Parliamentary Ombudsman emphasises that the manning in a jail must be dimensioned in such a way that it is possible to allow detained persons to visit a toilet within a reasonable period of time at all hours of the day and night.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman also directs criticism at the Swedish Police Authority for allowing the woman to keep only her underclothing on in the jail, and not offering her a blanket or other similar means to warm and cover herself.
During an ongoing custody dispute, a teacher sent an email to pupil N.N.’s father. In the email, the teacher inter alia expressed an opinion about N.N.’s mother. The Parliamentary Ombudsman has previously pronounced that staff at pre-schools and schools are to remain neutral in the event of custody disputes, etc. That a teacher has email contact with one parent is a natural element of the pre-school’s activities. Special care ought to be taken therefore when there is a custody dispute between the parents of a pupil.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman criticizes the teacher for expressing an opinion about N.N.’s mother in an email in a way that was not neutral.
A building inspector expressed himself in a way that is not acceptable in two email messages to an individual. The Parliamentary Ombudsman notes that the building inspector’s action was contrary to the requirement of objectivity set forth in Chapter 1 Section 9 of Sweden’s Instrument of Government and the building inspector is severely criticized.
A parent complained about the District Council's processing of her request to receive copies of photographs and videos containing images of her son, which had been taken and recorded at her son’s pre-school.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman notes in its decision that photographs and videos recorded as part of a preschool’s activities can often be deemed to have been created in the sense described in Sweden’s Freedom of the Press Act right at the time that they are taken/recorded. Such documents are therefore deemed official and a request for access to them is to be processed in accordance with the provisions of Sweden’s Freedom of the Press Act.
The District Council is criticized in the decision for not having dealt with the parent’s request to obtain copies of the documents with the promptness that the Freedom of the Press Act requires.
The Urban Development Board granted a derogation from the provisions for a nature reserve and imposed a number of conditions on the derogation. One of these conditions aimed to secure the municipality’s expansion plans in an area that lies outside the nature reserve. The condition was thus not imposed in order to achieve the objective of the nature reserve, and the Board is criticized for having breached the requirement of objectivity in Chapter 1 Section 9 of the Instrument of Government by inserting this condition. The Board is also criticized for the condition not being justified in the decision.
A complainant complained about Radiotjänst i Kiruna AB’s (RIKAB) fee inspections by phone. RIKAB were invited to respond to the complaints and at the same time to respond to a number of questions about their telephone activities.
In its consultation response, RIKAB gives an account of the individual case and of its telephone activities in such a way that the Parliamentary Ombudsman does not find any reason to direct criticism at RIKAB.
In its decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman emphasises the importance of RIKAB continuously ensuring that its telephone activities are conducted correctly, in accordance with the rule of law, and with respect for the privacy of the individual. The Parliamentary Ombudsman welcomes the fact that RIKAB is developing new methods for monitoring and improving its activities.
On account of two newspaper articles, the Parliamentary Ombudsman decided to investigate the case mentioned in the articles, and also Radiotjänst i Kiruna AB’s (RIKAB’s) fee inspections that are carried out in the form of the personal visits to households.
In its consultation response, RIKAB gives an account of the individual case and of its household visit activities in such a way that the Parliamentary Ombudsman does not find any reason to direct criticism at RIKAB.
In its decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman emphasises the importance of RIKAB continuously ensuring that its household visits are conducted correctly, in accordance with the rule of law, and with respect for the privacy of the individual.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s investigation points to significant failures in the placement of unaccompanied minors and the social service’s follow up of the minor’s care.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen's overall statements for each supervisory area the year 2015/16.
The Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsmen - JOBox 16327 • SE-103 26 Stockholm • SwedenVisiting Address: Västra Trädgårdsgatan 4 AOpening hours: 9.00–12.00, 13.00–15.00