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 unaccompanied girl arrived to Sweden accompanied by her aunt and the aunt’s family members. The Migration Agency assigned the girl to Mönsterås municipality. When the girl arrived to Sweden, she stated that she was 13 years old and married to her cousin, an adult son in the aunt’s family.
The Social Welfare Board began an investigation of the girl’s situation in January 2016. The Social Welfare Board made efforts to find housing for the girl in agreement with the girl and her husband, but the girl did not agree on placement in another housing. The Social Welfare Board decided that coercive measures pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act was not justified and found no other possibility than to grant the girl aid pursuant to the Social Services Act, and so forth place the girl in the home of her aunt and aunt’s husband. The Social Welfare Board informed the girl and the family members regarding what is applicable for 13-year-olds in Sweden and placed certain demands on the family. The Social Welfare Board also assigned a social welfare worker to correspond with the girl and the family.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that a child below the age of 15 need to have unconditional protection against sexual acts. A child below the age of 15 that has sexual relation with an adult is subject to a crime. It holds no bearing if the child consents to the sexual act.
An indication that a child, below the age of 15, is married or is living in a relationship similar to a marriage with, for example, a son in the considered family home, is, according to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, an indication of such a character that it appears as inappropriate to place the child in the home, pursuant to the Social Services Act. The possible protective factors, which may exist in such a case, do not live up to the possible risks that a placement in the family home implies.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that the Social Welfare Board’s assignment, to carefully follow up on the care, and make sure that a child placed in a family home is well taken care of, is one of the Social Welfare Board’s most fundamental assignments. In line with the facts that have become known of the girl the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that it was particularly important to monitor the girl’s situation and that the social services kept a close and continues correspondence with the girl and the family home.
According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, it was wrong to hand over the responsibility of monitoring the girl’s situation and the family home to a social welfare worker.
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the Social Welfare Board for placing the girl in the family home in spite of the fact that it had become known that the girl was below the age of 15 and married to a grown son in the family. The board also receives criticism for failures in the follow up of the care of the girl. Consequently, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that the failures in the processing of this case are severe.
In a decision dated May 24, 2016 former Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman Elisabeth Fura directed criticism towards the Prison and Probation Service for placing an intern in isolation at his unit (security unit) when the prerequisite for placing the intern in isolation were not met. In the decision, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman express some understanding regarding the difficulties that the Prison and Probation Service, according to the authority, face, when it comes to placing interns in a suitable context, but the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman states that the Prison and Probation Service does not hold the right to disregard the provisions regarding an intern’s stay pursuant to the Prison Act.
Due to complaints received during December 2016, from the same intern, regarding the fact that he and other interns were placed in isolation at security units without a decision on isolation, an investigation was initiated. The Prison and Probation Service held, in a statement to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen that as a consequence of the need to avoid inappropriate “client-constellations” there may be a situation where an intern is placed on their own in a security unit, during a limited time, and that such a secluded stay is not an isolated stay pursuant to the Prison Act.
The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman express, in the present case, that, according to her opinion, regardless of the difficulties that exists when it comes to locating suitable “client-constellations” it is unsatisfactory to discover that interns are placed at security units under conditions that result in an isolated stay in spite of the fact that the prerequisites for a placement in isolation are not met. According to the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman, the interns will also have problems getting their matter reviewed, as a formal decision on placement in isolation does not exist.
In view of the legal uncertainties that the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman considers are at hand when placing interns under such conditions were the interns in practice are placed in isolation without a formal decision and the lack of procedural guarantees in such situations, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman now raise the question of a review of the legislation within this area. A copy of the decision is sent to the Government offices.
A 16-year-old boy, N.N., was apprehended on January 6, 2016 suspected of a serious crime. Two days later the Social Services Department of Huddinge municipality was informed that N.N. should be apprehended if it was not possible to place him in a so-called “locked institution” pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU). The District Court of Uppsala municipality apprehended N.N. on January 9, 2016. On January 13, 2016 the Social Services Department met N.N. for the first time since he was deprived of his liberty. The following day N.N. was placed under care pursuant to section 6 of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU). The prosecutor revoked the apprehension and placed N.N. in a home for young people.
Only in exceptional cases are children suspected of a crime apprehended. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen has previously held that when a person below the age of 18 is apprehended there is a strong assumption that the youth shall immediately be placed under an order for care pursuant to section 6 of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU).
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that when considering N.N.’s age and the crimes he has been a suspect of, the question regarding placing him under an order for care, pursuant to section 6 of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU), should have become relevant upon the police’s correspondence with the administration on January 8, 2016. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that it was not until January 14, 2016 that a decision was taken on immediate care. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s understanding the authority’s slow case handling led to N.N. being apprehended for an unnecessarily long duration of time. The Social Welfare Board receives criticism for the processing of the case.
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen makes certain statements regarding the Social Services presence during a child examination.
A youth was under care at a residential home for young people in a secure unit pursuant to 15 b of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU). When the youth was moved to Bärby residential home for young people a decision was taken to terminate the care at the secure unit. Bärby residential home decided, that same day, to place the youth under care at the secure unit at Bärby. In total, during the time the youth spent at the two residential homes, the youth was kept under care at a secure unit for a considerably longer consecutive period than the two-months period specified in section 15 b, second paragraph, of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU).
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that the respite of two-months pursuant to section 15 b, second paragraph of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU) was not adjusted as the youth was moved from one residential home to another. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards Bärby residential home for young people for not verifying if the youth had been under care at a secure unit before the youth was moved. Neglecting to do so resulted in the respite of two months, pursuant to section 15 b, second paragraph of the of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU) was exceeded.
A unit for adult care in Stockholm municipality sent a report due to concern to the Social Welfare Board in Kumla municipality regarding a man with a substance abuse problem. The report included detailed information regarding the man’s situation. As soon as the board received the report the board started an investigation pursuant to chapter 11, section 1 of the Social Services Act (SoL). The Social Welfare Board sent an appointment to the man’s registered address in Kumla municipality and made a phone call to a social welfare worker in Stockholm municipality. The information that was collected from the social welfare worker was not registered. The case was later closed without any measure.
According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen's understanding, given the information in the report due to concern, there were adequate reasons to start an investigation pursuant to section 7 of the Care of Abusers Special Provisions Act (LVM). If an investigation had been pursued accordingly, the Social Welfare Board would have been able to rapidly collect information concerning the man from other authorities without any restraints. The board had also managed to set up a doctor’s appointment for the man.
When information from a person that is operative within the field of substance abuse reach the Social Welfare Board the assumption is that the board shall use the information to make sure that the need for possible measures is investigated in such a manner that the investigation may form the basis for an accurate decision. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen a more significant investigation should have been pursued of the man’s situation. The Social Welfare Board’s investigation did not live up to the condition that should be met. The measures taken were not adequate or sufficient. In addition, the collected information, that was substantial for the case, were not registered.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the Social Welfare Board in Kumla municipality for neglecting to investigate the case pursuant to section 7 of the Care of Abusers Special Provisions Act (LVM) and for their lack in investigating the case pursuant to chapter 11, section 1 of the Social Services Act (SoL).
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen will send a copy of this decision to the Health and Social Care Inspectorate for knowledge.
The Child and Education Administration sent an e-mail with a student’s medical certificate through a web based e-mail server to the student’s custodian and other officials. Certain security measures should have been taken to make sure that only the right person could access the information and that the information was transferred in a secure way (for example through encryption). Neglecting to carry out these security measures created a risk that others, i.e. unauthorized receivers, could take part in the information. The administration is criticised for their management of the correspondence. Moreover, the administration is criticised for delaying almost seven months to answer questions from the student’s father regarding, among other things, the administration of the medical certificate.
The Migration Agency decided to transfer an individual to Germany pursuant to the Dublin Regulation. The Migration Agency had not handed over the execution of the decision, and the Police Authority was not authorized to take a decision regarding detention and execution. In spite of this, a police officer took a decision on detention and execution. The police officer’s decision regarding the detention was based on a regulation that was not applicable. The next day, following upon a contact with the Migration Agency, the decision was adjusted which led to, among other things, a new legal assessment. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that the information in the decision regarding the grounds for the detention was very brief and the Police Authority was not able, not even in hindsight, to recognize the grounds on which the decision was based upon. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen's understanding the processing of this case gives the impression that the legal prerequisites for detaining an individual was not applied by the Police Authority and that the authority decided to detain the individual as well as execute the transfer with force, in spite of the factual circumstances. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs severe criticism towards the police officer and the Police Authority for this occurrence.
Following upon a request by the Police Authority, the Migration Agency decided to detain the individual, in spite of the fact that the Police Authority was not authorised to take such a decision. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that the case demonstrates that the Migration Agency need to take part in a detention decision, and, in the present case, the decision on removal, which form the basis for a motion on detention measures. Such strategy will allow the Migration Agency to discover if a decision is incomplete. If such faults exist, there may be reasons to conduct further check-ups of the legality of the decision. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, there are reasons to believe that the Migration Agency, when conducting such examinations, are able to discover if a detention decision lack legal basis. The Migration Agency is criticised for taking a decision prior to taking part in the Police Authority’s adjustment of the detention decision and for neglecting to conduct an adequate control of the legality of the detention decision.
In two cases the Medical Products Agency has advertised vacancies on the authority’s internal web page and notice board, while the advertisement of a third vacancy was advertised on the authority’s external web page. None of the three vacancies were reported to Arbetsförmedlingen.
An authority that intends to employ is obligated, according to the Employment Regulation, to advertise their vacancies adequately so that those interested in the employment are able to apply. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that individuals interested in a vacancy may exist both within and outside of the authority. Therefore, to be able to reach all interested parties, an advertisement on the authority’s internal webpage and notice board is not enough. An advert on the authority’s external web page, and/or in the daily and periodical press, are, according to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s understanding, suitable ways to spread information concerning a vacancy to individuals that are interested in an employment.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the Medical Products Agency for not advertising the two vacancies in such a manner that interested parties outside of the authority could access information regarding the vacancies. The authority is also criticised for not reporting the three vacancies to Arbetsförmedlingen pursuant to the Public Employment Regulation, and for, during a certain time period, applying an employment instruction within the authority, that was not in accordance to applicable legislation.
Visit from Iceland on March 16, 2018
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: 9.00–12.00, 13.00–15.00