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.
An employee at a health care centre disclosed certain data from a patient’s journal during a telephone call to a social welfare worker as the social welfare worker stated that the individual had consented to handing out the data. According to a standardised entry that the individual had signed, the social welfare board was granted the ability to disclose data, from among others, the region, that concerned the individual’s case and that was necessary for the processing of the case. The entry did not specify what case or region that was included.The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman express that she holds great understanding of the fact that authorities, on a daily basis, trust instructions from other authorities. When it comes to disclosing data that is included in a patient’s journal, and which usually are of a sensitive matter, the caregiver should make sure that the concerned individuals have consented to the disclosure of data. The caregiver is able to check the documented consent or contact the individual in question. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is critical towards the fact that the caregiver, in this case, did not take any measures to ensure that the individual had given his/hers consent to disclose data.Moreover, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman holds that the documented entry is formulated in such a broad manner that the individual could not embrace the scope of the consequences of the consent. According to the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman’s understanding, a consent that appears as too broad, when an authority considers handing out confidential data, should lead to a contact with the concerned individual, to make sure that he or she has given their consent to disclose data in the separate case.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman has investigated two cases at the Police Authority concerning contested payments regarding parking fines. The facts in each case were clear and there were no need for supplements or other information. The processing time of one of the cases was more than one year and more than two years in the other. During most of this time, no one worked on the cases.The cases were processed at the Police Authority’s legal unit, unit South. The investigation shows that the legal unit has a large number of cases due to be settled, and that the processing time of the cases holds a time span of around two years. The Parliamentary Ombudsman directs criticism towards the Police Authority for the slow and passive processing of the cases, which contravene the provisions in the Administrative Procedure Act regarding case management and how long the processing of a case may take.The Police Authority has tried to correct the situation regarding the long processing times. The Parliamentary Ombudsman hold that the situation is concerning and that the authority should collect the resources of the legal unit to make sure that a structure is completed to reach acceptable processing times.
By mistake, the Migration Agency sent only the first page of a decision to an applicant’s representative when it was dispatched. From the document, one could easily have the impression that the decision document consisted of only a single page (1/1 noted at the top right of the decision document). However, the decision consisted of four pages. The Migration Agency is criticised for having sent out an incomplete version of the decision to the representative and for the long amount of time that passed before the mistake was noticed. The Migration Agency is also criticised for the fact that it was not evident, in the document, that the copy of the decision was not the full version. The Parliamentary Ombudsman is further critical of the fact that the Migration Agency has a document management system that makes it possible to send out the first page of a decision document without explicitly stating that only one of several pages of the document is being sent. The Parliamentary Ombudsman holds that it is a serious situation that information in a decision, in this case page numbering, can be changed retrospectively if it is not a matter of a correction. A decision document must be complete and unchangeable once it has been dispatched.
During a preliminary investigation, a mobile phone was seized and taken into custody from a man who appeared in the criminal investigation. A technical investigation of the mobile phone was conducted and in connection with this the police found text messages that the man had sent to a lawyer who had been a public defender for him in a previous criminal investigation. The police prepared two memoranda where the information from the text messages were included. During the investigation, the man himself became suspected of committing a crime and was prosecuted. The public prosecutor allowed the text messages to be included in the preliminary investigation record and invoked them as evidence when he filed the criminal complaint. The text messages contained information which the man had entrusted to the lawyer in his capacity as a legal counsel for him and which she could not be questioned about as a witness in the case. The Parliamentary Ombudsman notes that the information is therefore subject to the prohibition against seizures as provided in chapter 27, section 2 of the Code of Judicial Procedure. When a search of the contents of a mobile phone is conducted, the investigating authorities may find information covered by the prohibition against seizures. The Parliamentary Ombudsman points out that it is a fundamental requirement that such searching in a mobile phone be conducted with a certain degree of caution and that those who are looking through the contents of the phone must pay attention to whether it may contain information that may not be seized. In the event that such information is found, it is self-evident that it may not be read, printed out or otherwise used in a preliminary investigation or in a trial. The Parliamentary Ombudsman directs criticism towards the Police Authority for how the police investigators handled and used the information contained in the text messages. Criticism is also directed towards the public prosecutor for allowing the text messages to be included in the preliminary investigation record and having invoked them as evidence in the district court. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s understanding, the occurance gives the impression that the officials have not had sufficient knowledge of the contents of the provisions in question. The Parliamentary Ombudsman holds that it is not acceptable and that it appears particularly questionable when it concerns provisions aimed at protecting confidential information between a suspect and his or her defence lawyer.
The chairperson of a Social Welfare Board decided to remove and place two siblings, who were being cared for pursuant to sections 1 and 2 of the Care of Young Persons Act, and the special provisions concerning care of young persons, and change the placement of the two siblings from a foster family home to an emergency foster home. They had lived in the foster family home for over four years. An investigation into the relocation of children must be conducted unconditionally and should highlight the advantages and disadvantages of any removal and re-placement. As with all decisions pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act, what is in the best interests of the child, shall be decisive for whether or not a removal and re-placement should take place. The board’s investigation did not apply whether the siblings could be removed and placed elsewhere, but primarily concerned the conditions in the foster family home and its suitability as a foster family home. The siblings’ situation in the foster family home and how the siblings could be affected by a removal and re-placement were not touched on at all in the investigation. Neither the children nor the guardian were given the opportunity to be heard during the investigation. The Parliamentary Ombudsman criticises the board for its inadequate investigation for the removal and re-placement of the siblings. The chairperson of a Social Welfare Board has the right to take a decision on the removal and re-placement of a child only if the board’s decision cannot be awaited, pursuant to chapter 11, section 3 of the Care of Young Persons Act. However, this decision-making authority is intended to be used only in urgent situations, i.e. when a child must be immediately removed from the existing foster family home. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the siblings’ situation in the foster family home was not urgent when the chairperson of the board made the decision concerning the removal and re-placement of the siblings. The chairperson should therefore have refrained from deciding for himself that the siblings should be removed and placed elsewhere and instead have allowed the board to examine and decide on the matter. The Parliamentary Ombudsman also directs criticism towards the board.
In January 2017, a Social Welfare Board opened a child investigation concerning four siblings after receiving a report due to concern. The children’s parents had joint custody of them at the time. In April 2017, the children’s mother moved to a sheltered accommodation and took her children with her. The mother then brought legal proceedings against the children’s father in a district court. In the child custody case, the court requested a custody, housing and visitation rights investigation from the board. The parties were not allowed to obtain information about, or the opportunity to comment and provide their views, on the investigation before it was submitted to the court. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman directs criticism towards the board for this occurrence. In the children’s investigations, the mother stated that she did not want to talk to the child social workers due to their obligations concerning documenting contact and information. At the request of the mother, the board arranged to talk to a counsellor at the board’s unit against violence in close relationships. The information provided by the mother at the time was significant for the children’s cases, however the information was passed on to the child social workers via consultations only after the mother moved to the protected accommodation. This was done due to that the father was not able to access or obtain copies of the information provided by the mother. Instead of complying with the statutory requirements for documentation and then dealing with any request for disclosure of documents in the cases, the board has deliberately acted in a manner for the purpose of making it difficult for the father to gain access to them. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman strongly criticises the board for how it behaved. To arrange the documentation in this manner at the request of one party raises further questions about the objectivity and impartiality of the board. The manner of behaviour makes it easy for outsiders to get the impression that the board has taken the side of the mother. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman points out that the board’s actions were contrary to the constitutional requirements in the Instrument of Government concerning objectivity and impartiality, the board receives criticism also in this regard.
A Social Welfare Board had taken a 14-year-old adolescent girl into care pursuant to section 6 of the Care of Young Persons Act. (1990:52) (LVU), because of the girl’s own behaviour, and placed the girl in a residential care home. The girl disappeared from the residential care home. The chairperson of the Social Welfare Board decided that the girl should instead be placed in a special residential care home for youths run by the National Board of Institutional Care. In addition, the chairman requested the assistance of the police by a so-called enforcement assistance, to bring the girl to the residential care home for youth. The police found the girl 12 days later. The Social Welfare Board holds overall responsibility for the care of those under care pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act. Even if a Social Welfare Board asks for special assistance by the police, to implement a decision pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act, the overall responsibility for locating the adolescent and the return of him or her, remains with the board. Therefore, the board should have made efforts to keep itself informed on the police’s attempts to locate the girl until the police found her. The board should also have tried on its own to find out where the girl was staying and sought to locate her. The Parliamentary Ombudsman directs criticism towards the board for its passivity and inaction with attempting to locate the girl.
An inmate with physical disabilities was placed in the detention centre at Göteborg remand prison for a few days. At one point, it took a full twelve hours for the urgent care needs of the inmate to be met, even though the inmate was under the supervision of staff every hour and that on several occasions the nurse of the detention centre had alerted staff, and the head of the unit, of the inmate’s situation. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman notes in the decision that it is the responsibility of prison staff – not the health care professionals – to assist inmates with general care or social care, such as daily hygiene and toilet visits. It is clear that the treatment of the inmate was without question entirely unacceptable. The Parliamentary Ombudsman directs severe criticism towards the detention centre for what occurred. One contributing factor to the situation at issue was that the senior management of the detention centre had not clarified and communicated the division of responsibilities between the unit’s staff and healthcare professionals. According to the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman, proper functioning of management and governance is a fundamental prerequisite so that the operations of the Prison and Probation Service will be able to be conducted in a proper and effective manner and for the personnel to know how they are to fulfil their work responsibilities. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman holds that the senior management of the detention centre has not fulfilled their responsibilities in this regard. The detention centre is also criticised for shortcomings in the documentation.
Read more about the office of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen's international activities.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen's overall statements for each supervisory area the year 2018/19.
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Report from 2015–2017 including the themes: • information about rights• supervision• women deprived of their liberty
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