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.
The Tax Agency exercises a certain routine that includes that all personalized mail, that the Agency receives, shall be opened by the authority, with the exception of mail directed to recipients that holds a separate position, mail concerning private matters, which is noted by an additional envelope stating a person’s address, or mail including a specific reference and so-called agency assignments. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that the Agency’s routine is not in compliance to statutory regulations and may lead to penalties for separate employees that open mail directed to others, pursuant to the authority’s routine, without his or hers consent. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the Tax Agency for the routine.
AA had been misusing drugs for a long time. He died in late August 2016. AA's sister made a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, informing that the social services had not acted fast enough with measures to help her brother. In the present case, there are currently a number of issues that apply to the basic requirements for the Social Welfare Board’s handling and the Board’s special responsibility to investigate and assist serious addictions. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen emphasises that there are relatively high demands on the Board to conduct active and adequate investigation work. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen is especially critical of the Board’s non-performance of an investigation pursuant to Section 7 of LVM. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen does not consider that the Social Welfare Board, despite repeated irregularities and clear indications regarding AA's state of health and life situation, has done what it takes to assess the severity of AA's abuse and need for LVM care. The shortcomings that characterise the Board’s handling of the case are such that the Parliamentary Ombudsmen considers there are reasons to direct severe criticism towards the Board.
In a decision concerning housing assistance, the Social Welfare Board set conditions for assistance entitlement that the individual would do everything they could to find their own accommodation throughout the country. The assistance recipient had custody of two children who lived alternately with herself and the father of the children. When measures concern children, the Social Welfare Board should observe what is best for the child, the so-called “child perspective” (pursuant to Chapter 1, Section 2 of the Social Services Act). In an investigation relating to assistance for an adult who is also a parent, the Social Welfare Board should investigate the consequences of a decision from the child’s perspective. The considerations of the Social Welfare Board shall be presented in the supporting material for the decision. It is apparent that the children in this case would be affected by the individual needing to move to a property that is far away from the father. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen confirms that the investigation that formed the basis for the Board's decision on assistance did not contain any considerations concerning whether and in what manner the decision could affect the children's situation. The Social Welfare Board is subject to criticism for neglecting to observe the child’s perspective.
A City District Board granted a man assistance in the form of housing in a so-called training apartment. The Board and the man entered into a tenancy agreement concerning the apartment. Due to difficulties with keeping this form of accommodation drug-free, the set-up was changed in such a way that the staff would carry out supervised visits in the rented apartments if there were indications that drugs were present. The Board then searched the man's residence to check if there were any drugs in his apartment. An authority must not outright enter a residence. The Board’s search of the accommodation constituted an intrusion of the type that every citizen is protected against, pursuant to Chapter 2, Section 6 of the Instrument of Government (RF). Restrictions on the protection may be made by law. However, there is no legal support for the search that the Board carried out. The basic protection only applies to forced intervention. The individual may thus consent to a measure from the authority’s side, e.g. a search of the residence, that otherwise would have constituted a violation of the provisions in the Instrument of Government. In the current case, however, such consent is missing. The Board receives severe criticism for, in violation of the Instrument of Government’s provisions, searching a training apartment.
The Labour Market and Social Welfare Board granted a man assistance in the form of housing in a so-called transitional apartment. The municipality and the man entered into a tenancy agreement that contained clauses, which gave the social services department the right to carry out supervised visits in the apartment once per month. The Board carried out supervised visits in the man’s residence. An authority must not outright enter a residence. The supervised visits in question constituted intrusion of the type that every citizen is protected against, pursuant to Chapter 2, Section 6 of the Instrument of Government (RF). Restrictions on the protection may be made by law. However, there is no legal support for the supervised visits that the Board carried out. The basic protection only applies to forced intervention. Thus, the individual may consent to a measure from the authority’s side, e.g. a supervised visit, that would otherwise have been a violation of the provision pursuant to the Instrument of Government. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen has in several previous decisions stated that this must be a question of genuine consent from the individual. He or she may thus not be "forced" to provide consent. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen expressed that it cannot be ruled out that the man actually consented to supervised visits upon signing the tenancy agreement. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen emphasise the importance of the individual receiving clear information regarding what other alternatives there are in regards to housing. Because the municipality entered into a tenancy agreement with the man, a lease was created between the parties. The rules regarding tenancy in Chapter 12, of the Land Code (JB) were thereby applicable. A landlord is entitled, without delay, to gain access to a residence in certain urgent situations (Chapter 12, Section 26 of the Land Code). However, contract terms and conditions which give the landlord more advanced entitlement are not valid. The supervised visits which are outlined in the tenancy agreement are significantly more advanced than what is indicated in the provisions of the Land Code. The Labour Market and Social Welfare Board are criticised for the condition regarding supervised visits being entered into the tenancy agreement. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that the Board, through the formulation of the conditions, did not sufficiently take into account the existence of a lease relationship between the parties. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen expects the Board to review the conditions and adapt them to the applicable provisions.
A woman requested to access an e-mail log from the Social Welfare Board. During the case’s handling, the Board sought the woman’s identity by asking the individuals included in the e-mail log if they knew who she was. It was only after two weeks that the woman received a decision in which the Board rejected the request to access the e-mail log. The Social Welfare Board receives criticism for the slow processing of the request. The Social Welfare Board is also criticised for enquiring about the woman’s identity in an incorrect manner. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen also considers that based on the anonymity protection in Chapter 2, Section 14 of the Freedom of the Press Act, it is inappropriate that the authority, on its own initiative, gives out information concerning who requested access to various documents. Furthermore, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s investigation indicates a lack of knowledge among the Social Welfare Board’s managers and other staff members with regard to how cases and official documents should be handled. The Social Welfare Board is responsible for how managers and other staff members with knowledge of these cases manage their cases, therefore the Board receives criticism.
The complainant had been assigned a national registration number with a date of birth that deviates from her correct date of birth. When the Police Authority issued a passport for the complainant, a date of birth corresponding to the numbers in the assigned national registration number was stated, instead of the correct date of birth. The Police Authority is criticised for their insufficient handling in connection with the issuing of the passport. The Police Authority has begun an adaption of their IT system and handed out information to all passport officers in order to avoid similar problems, which the Parliamentary Ombudsmen views as positive.
The Social Welfare Board initiated an investigation of the children following an application from the mother of the two children regarding the children receiving care outside of their own home. Pursuant to this the children were placed in a halfway house, in accordance to the Social Services Act. The Board informed the father, who was a guardian, that an investigation had been initiated when the investigation had already been ongoing for two months. The Board did not ask the father for his consent to such an intervention prior to the children being placed in the halfway house. In an investigation concerning whether the Social Welfare Board needs to intervene in the protection or support of a child, persons affected by such an investigation must, unless special reasons exist, immediately be informed (Chapter 11, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Social Services Act). A child may not be given care in a foster home or halfway house pursuant the provisions in the Social Services Act without the guardian having given their consent. If the child has two guardians, consent is required from both. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen concludes that the investigation in the current case was intended to clarify whether there was reason for the Board to intervene in the protection or support of the children. There was, according to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, no acceptable reason for the Board to refrain from informing the father of the investigation. He should therefore have been immediately informed that an investigation had been initiated. Prior to the Board placing the children in a halfway house, the father should have been asked to provide his consent to the measure. Because the father had not provided his consent for the children to be placed in the halfway house, there were no legal grounds for the Board’s decision. The Board receives criticism due to deficiencies in the processing of the present case.
On September 26 the Parliamentary Ombudsmen will recieve a visit by a delegation from Ukraine
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen's overall statements for each supervisory area the year 2016/17.
The Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsmen - JOBox 16327 • SE-103 26 Stockholm • SwedenVisiting Address: Västra Trädgårdsgatan 4 AOpening hours: 9.00–11.30, 13.00–15.00