Date of Decision:6/22/2017
Criticism of the Swedish Police Authority inter alia for a woman who was taken into custody for intoxication not being permitted to use the toilet during the night, and for the woman not being offered anything to cover herself with
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.