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 former Executive Director of the region has failed to register two agreements regarding a former HR director’s employment within the County Council, in violation of the rules on registering documents in a journal and the County Council’s internal guidelines. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that the deficient handling in this case has led to the fact that copies of public documents have not been able to be provided upon request and that an external review of the matter in question has thereby been significantly impaired and made more difficult. The Executive Director of the region receives severe criticism for his failure to register the documents in question in a journal.
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen further states that it is a very severe matter that documents relating to important circumstances associated with governmental activities, are dealt with outside of the regular system for registering public documents. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen has not been able to investigate if what occurred is the result of an individual employee´s violation of rules and guidelines, or if there are general problems with the procedures for the registration or disclosing of documents within the region. However, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen trusts that the region will take measures to ensure that registering and disclosing public documents will be properly managed.
In a complaint filed with the Parliamentary Ombudsmen a doctor complained about how a case, relating to him, had been processed by the Health and Social Care Inspectorate (IVO). The doctor stated, inter alia, that he had not been provided with an opportunity to comment on the matter previous to when the Health and Social Care Inspectorate came to a decision on the case. In the decision, the Health and Social Care Inspectorate directed criticism towards the doctor.
In the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s investigation it was found that despite that the case was commenced via a complaint, the Health and Social Care Inspectorate had dealt with this within the framework of an initiative case pursuant to Chapter 7, Section 19 of the Swedish Patients’ Safety Act and not as a complaint case under Chapter 7, Section 18. According to the latter provision, inter alia, the complainant and the party to whom the complaint relates, is provided an opportunity to comment on a recommended decision prior to the decision being by the Health and Social Care Inspectorate. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen criticises the Health and Social Care Inspectorate for not handling the matter pursuant to the complaints provisions and not communicating a proposal for a decision to the party whom the complaint related to.
Chapter 7, Section 19 (2) of the Patient Safety Act states that Chapter 7, Section 18, as applicable parts, shall also apply to matters where initiatives are taken. However, the Health and Social Care Inspectorate has made a statement to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen that the obligation to communicate a proposal for a decision cannot be regarded as applicable in the case of an initiative. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, there are uncertainties in the legislation in this regard, and therefore there is a need for a review. A copy of the decision is forwarded to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.
An investigation pursuant to Chapter 11, Section 2 of the Social Services Act (2001:453) (SoL), has the purpose and intention to clarify whether or not there is a need for the Social Welfare Board to intervene in the protection or support of a child. If it is shown during a child welfare investigation that the child is in need of an intervention or resources from the Social Services Department, the Board has the obligation to investigate whether the interventions and efforts can be provided on a non-compulsory basis pursuant to the provisions of the Social Services Act and, if this is not possible, consider whether there is a need for measures pursuant to the Care of Young Persons (Special Provisions) Act (1990:52) (LVU). The investigation shall be conducted expeditiously and completed no later than within four months. The issues concerning the child’s need for assistance and how this should be adequately satisfied should be considered in the same investigation.
In the present case, the Municipal Executive Board of Bengtsfors Municipality has conducted two child welfare investigations immediately consecutive to each other over a period of ten months. In the first investigation, the Social Services Department made the assessment that the child would be placed in a home with a family that takes care of other children. When the parents did not consent to such an intervention and assistance, the Social Services Department concluded the investigation without action and commenced a new investigation on the same day in order to investigate whether the child should be provided care with the scope of LVU.
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that if the Municipal Executive Board carried out the first investigation correctly, the Social Services Department could have been able, on the basis of that investigation, to determine whether or not the child was in need of care within the scope of LVU. How the Social Services Department managed the matter resulted in that the time for investigation was dragged out far too long. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen criticises the Municipal Executive Board for inadequate and deficient management of the matter.
A suspicion arose that an employed ‘after-school activities teacher’ within the Health Care and Social Services Committee was under the influence of narcotics. The employer therefore asked the employee to submit to a drug test. The test results were negative. In the present case the Parliamentary Ombudsmen takes a position on whether the drug test was conducted in violation of Chapter 2, Section 6 of the Form of Government Act.
Every citizen is protected against forced physical interventions (Chapter 2, Section 6, Form of Government Act). Under certain circumstances, the protection may be limited by law. An intervention is i.e. forced if it is conducted after a threat of any sanction/penalty or other forms of pressure.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes initially that Chapter 2, Section 6 of the Form of Government Act was applicable in the relationship between the Committee and the employee. Legal support to require an employee to carry out a drug test, is, in this case missing. This means that the employee must provide their consent to submit a drug test in order for it to be carried out. The Committee stated that the test had been conducted on a non-compulsory, voluntary basis, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that what has been shown in the matter does not provide sufficient evidence or foundation to criticise the Committee for conducing the drug test.
However, on the Municipality’s Intranet, employees are informed i.e. a refusal to take a drug test is equated with a positive test. An employee who receives that information should not perceive the possibility to refrain from submitting a drug test as a real alternative. The Committee’s guidelines and procedures for drug testing in that section constitute a form of pressure that is contrary to Chapter 2, Section 6 of the Form of Government Act. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen criticises the Board for the formulation of the procedures in this area.
A Head of Operations at Skåne University Hospital decided that a relative of a patient under care pursuant to the Health Care Act would only be allowed to visit the patient at certain specified times. These visitation hours meant a limitation in relation to how the relative had previously been able to visit the patient and to the regular visitation times within the care unit. The Head of Operations believed that this was a measure of purely executive nature that he was authorised to decide upon on the basis of the hospital’s general policies concerning procedures and proper conduct at the hospital.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen has previously stated that a decision to suspend until further notice the possibility of a relative from visiting a patient who is being cared for in accordance with the Health Care Act cannot be regarded as a purely executive measure. In the present case, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that decision-making concerning the limitation of visitation of a relative of a patient being cared for in the non-compulsory healthcare cannot be regarded as a purely executive measure that an executive officer is authorised to make. The Head of Operations is therefore criticised for his deficient handling of the matter.
During the course of the processing of the case, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen has highlighted ambiguities regarding the legal prerequisites for issuing visitation restrictions in the non-compulsory health care.
Restricting the right to visit a close relative is a very intrusive measure for an individual, both for the visitors and the recipient of the care, and constitutes an infringement of their family life under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Thus, according to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen it is therefore important that such restrictions be based on preconditions defined by law and that decisions in a specific case may be appealed to a court. When it comes to non-compulsory care, such special regulation is missing. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen wishes to draw the Government’s attention to this particular matter and raises the issue of a review of the legislation.
In June 2016, photographs from a surveillance camera were published in a programme broadcast over the Internet by a media company and in the media company’s printed newspaper. The photographs showed two people suspected of fraud and attempted fraud, which had been forwarded to the media company by the police to appear in a programme in order to obtain assistance from the general public in identifying one of the suspects. In a complaint filed to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen the complainant stated that the police already knew her identity, when the photographs were released.
A photograph of a suspect in an ongoing investigation is usually encompassed with secrecy. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen has previously considered the preconditions if a publication of an electronic surveillance camera’s image of a suspected person on the police’s website may be within the confines of the law (decision: JO 2011/12 p. 118). In the present case, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that the purpose of releasing the pictures has been identical with that in the decision previously announced, i.e. to obtain the public’s assistance in order to identify a suspect, and that corresponding considerations regarding the privacy of the suspect should be made as when the police publish a photograph. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, the assessment of whether the photographs could be released to the media company for publication, should be on the basis of the preconditions stated in JO 2011/12 p. 118, which are essentially consistent with the Swedish Police Authority’s guidelines regarding publication on the police’s website. However, when the police release a picture from a preliminary investigation to another party for publication for identification purposes, one loses control over how the image is used. Particular consideration should therefore be taken of whether or not the image should be released.
According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen the measure to disclose the photograph in this case was not in accordance with the preconditions as established by the Parliamentary Ombudsmen and the Swedish Police Authority’s guidelines. It has thus not been compatible with the provisions of Chapter 10, Section 2 and Chapter 35, Section 1 of the Swedish Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act, nor with the principle of assessing certain necessary interests as outlined in Chapter 23, Section 4 of the Swedish Procedural Code. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the Police Authority for this occurrence and for the lack of documentation in the case.
The Social Welfare Board commenced a child welfare investigation after it had been revealed that a child and some schoolmates had shown abnormal behaviour while playing. During the investigation, the Social Welfare Board obtained data from the Police’s Registry of Criminal Convictions and Registry of Suspected Offenders concerning the child’s parents. The issue is whether the measures taken by the Social Welfare Board had statutory support.
A Social Welfare Board may collect data from the Registry of Suspected Offenders (Misstankeregistret) and the Registry of Criminal Convictions (Belastningsregistret) if a case concerns measures pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act, and if the Board finds it necessary, upon an assessment of proportionality, that the information is useful in order to be able to take a position concerning the child’s need for protection or support. There are no provisions that clarify when a child welfare investigation pursuant to the Social Services Act becomes a case pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s understanding, a case concerns measures pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act when a certain matter is discovered within an ongoing investigation, i.e. when the Board is considering an intervention pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen finds that in this case, when the investigation commenced, there was hardly any circumstances that suggested that the child was in need of care pursuant the Care of Young Persons Act. Nor was it apparent, in the investigation conducted by the Board, that the Board was at any time in the vicinity of considering such an intervention. Thus, the measure of retrieving data from the registries did not have statutory support. The Board receives criticism for the fact that the data was collected.
Data contained in the Registry of Criminal Convictions and Registry of Suspected Offenders is of a sensitive and personal nature. Therefore, according to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, there should be no doubt as to when the preconditions are fulfilled for the Social Welfare Board to obtain information from the registries. Rules concerning the Social Welfare Board’s abilities to obtain such data need to be clarified. Pursuant to Section 4 of the Act with Instructions for the Parliamentary Ombudsman (1986:765), the decision is handed over to the Swedish Government Offices (Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs).
AA was apprehended for intoxication and brought to the arrest in Lund. Around nine o’clock in the morning the staff members at the arrest noticed that AA snored and put her in recovery position to free her airways. The staff members at the arrest continued to check on AA through a window in the cell door. The investigation proves that it took approximately 35 minutes until the staff at the arrest entered the cell again. Proceeding to this AA’s breathing stopped and the staff members began life saving measures. AA was brought by ambulance to the hospital where she was declared dead. No records were kept of the supervision that was performed of AA in connection to her arrest.
According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s understanding AA’s circumstances proved that her condition needed to be checked upon inside the cell. Especially in regards to the fact that AA was left in recovery position. AA should also have been woken up when she was snoring. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that the supervision of AA did not lived up to the requirements on accuracy and care in regards to persons kept during coercive measures. The Police Authority is criticised for their lack of supervision of AA.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen also directs criticism towards the Police Authority for the lack of documentation and emphasises the importance of registering observations and other essential facts during the supervision of an apprehended person.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen has recently stated that a person apprehended for intoxication should, as a main rule, be kept under medical examination and not be kept in a police arrest, moreover there may be reasons for the Government to review the necessity of legislative measures within this area. That decision is handed over to the Government Offices. In addition, this decision demonstrates the shortcomings in the current legislation. A copy of this decision will be handed over to the Government Offices for knowledge.
A South Korean delegation will visit the Parliamentary Ombudsmen on June 25
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