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.
Eight expired passports issued in the name of one person were submitted to the Police Authority after being found at an airport. The Authority did not register the passports as lost property, instead the police annulled and destroyed the passports shortly after they were submitted. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that expired passports must be processed as lost property. Lost property received by the Police Authority must be registered. Furthermore, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that a basic requirement is that an individual’s right to their property is respected and that an action regarding an individual’s property is supported by existing regulations. No such grounds were found in the case. The Police Authority is criticised for not registering the passports when they were submitted and, for destroying the passports without legal basis.
A man was prosecuted by the district court for assault, among other things. Rather than receiving a prison sentence, he received probation with an instruction for a treatment plan, referred to as a court-imposed care order (Chapter 30, Section 9, Second Paragraph 3 Swedish Penal Code). For a court to impose a care order, the court need to have access to an on-going investigation into an individual’s personal circumstances as well as the conditions pursuant to enforcing such a sentence. Hence, in cases where care orders are issued, the court must obtain a statement, referred to as a presentence report investigation, from the Swedish Prison and Probation Service. The Prison and Probation Service must provide the investigation necessary for the statement. Proposals for a treatment plan must be investigated and established by the Swedish Prison and Probation Service. The proposal should be formulated in consultation with the social services. The cost of a care order is divided between the Prison and Probation Service and, as a rule, the social services. The district court obtained a presentence report investigation from the Prison and Probation Service. The man applied to the board for assistance for the aid assessment for the care order. However, the board did not examine the man’s aid application for the care order, due to circumstances related to the staffing situation. Nor was a decision issued on the matter. Consequently, the Prison and Probation Service was without the basis to submit a proposal to the district court, outlining suitable treatment as an alternative to a prison sentence. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that the statement and proposal for a treatment plan form the grounds for the court’s choice of sentence for an individual. In practice, the court cannot impose a care order on an individual if they are without a treatment plan. Hence, a plan proposed by the Prison and Probation Service can be of great importance to an individual. The failure of the Social Services Board to investigate and issue a decision regarding the man’s aid application for a court-imposed care order meant that the Prison and Probation Service was unable to submit a treatment plan proposal to the court. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen this is unacceptable. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the Social Services Board for their failure to investigate and issue a decision regarding the man’s aid application for the court-imposed care order.
A restaurant applied to the Police Authority for a permit to expand an existing terrace area. The Technical Board of Norrköping municipality issued a statement on the application and the Police Authority subsequently granted the permit. The board then decided to change its previous statement. The Police Authority revoked the permit with reference to the amended statement. In its decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen stated that one condition for a permit to use public land must be directed towards the permit holder and formulated in a way to enable compliance. It is important that a decision stipulates what constitutes a condition in the permit. In their statement to the Police Authority, the Technical Board made a reservation that was intended to be such a condition, however it was rather presented as an indication that they intended to act if the design of the terrace proved unsuitable. The board was criticised for the statement being unclear and, in certain instances, subjectively formulated. In addition, the board is criticised for having given the impression that they had the authority to change the permit for the terrace, even though the Police Authority holds this power. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen also states that for a municipality to issue a statement on a permit application, it must first thoroughly examine the conditions to support the application. A municipality cannot abstain from the responsibility to investigate and issue a stance on the conditions supporting an application by informing the applicant that certain uncertainties regarding the suitability of the permit exist. The Technical Board is criticised for inadequate processing prior to the statement issued to the Police Authority. The Police Authority is criticised for its shortcomings in the permit application processing and that the permit issued by the Authority did not meet the basic requirements for clarity. The Police Authority is also criticised as in email correspondence with the technical board, the case officer gave the impression that the Police Authority would follow the municipality’s request to revoke the permit without conducting an independent evaluation.
A custody, residence and contact investigation pursuant to Chapter 6, Section 19, third paragraph of the Swedish Children and Parents Code conducted in the framework of a custody and access court case, was submitted to the courts without having first been issued to the parties, due to time pressure. A custody, residence and contact investigation is the basis for the exercise of public authority held by the courts in cases brought against an individual in the district courts. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that parties in a case are closely involved in the investigation and should therefore be able to access the report and be given the opportunity to comment on the investigation before it is submitted to the court. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen also emphasises that this type of investigation forms a vital foundation for the court’s decision. Therefore, it is of great importance to an individual that a party is able to comment on the investigation. It is also important that the court receive a reliable basis for its decision. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, such an investigation must always be communicated to the parties before it is submitted to the courts. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen does not deem time pressure to be an acceptable reason for failing to communicate information on a custody investigation. The board is criticised for not providing the parties the opportunity to comment on the investigation before it was submitted to the court.
During an ongoing custody, residence and contact dispute, a family case worker acted as custody support between the children and their mother. In addition, the case worker sent an email to the father’s representative describing the interpretation of the mother’s behaviour. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that there was no decision in the case that stated that the family members needed custody support. I.e., the case worker acted as custody support despite there being no reason for it. The family case worker cannot escape criticism for their actions. Regarding the email, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that pursuant to Chapter 1, Section 9 of the Instrument of Government representatives of the general public must maintain objectivity and impartiality in their actions. However, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that there is no formal impediment for the social services to provide written information regarding a child upon the request of a parent. Nevertheless, it is important that the person providing the information only state the circumstances of which they have sufficient knowledge. Such a statement shall, as a rule, only present factual accounts and not include any appraisals or evaluations. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen believes that the content of the email is defamatory towards the mother; the Parliamentary Ombudsmen therefore states that the family case worker should not have written and sent the e-mail. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen has serious concerns that through their behaviour, the case worker has given the mother grounds to question the impartiality and objectivity of the social services. The family case worker is criticised for their actions.
A case officer at Försäkringskassan inadvertently left a voice message containing bad language and derogatory statements on a client’s answerphone. The decision states that the actions of the case officer conflicts with the objectivity requirement in Chapter 1, Section 9 of the Instrument of Government. The case officer receives severe criticism.
In autumn and winter of 2017, the Swedish Work Environment Authority created an advertising campaign in which individual employers described the actions they take to prevent mental health problems in the workplace. The advertisements were available on the Work Environment Authority website and were published across several media channels, including a full page advertisement in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. Following the nature of the advertising campaign, on 21 December 2017, Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman Lilian Wiklund decided to launch an investigation into the Work Environment Authority’s campaign. In the decision, it was stated that authorities’ information to the public is subject to the principle of objectivity. This means that an information campaign by an authority may not be created in such a way that it falls to any other body’s advantage. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen stresses the importance of respecting the principle. The principle carries great significance to law and order and for the public to safeguard the public’s trust in government agencies and their activities. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that the advertising campaign cannot be understood as anything other than the Work Environment Authority providing advertisements for the employers involved in the campaign. This runs the risk of causing the public to question the authority’s impartiality towards the employers who participated in the advertising campaign, which in itself risks upsetting the general confidence in the agency as a whole. The decision states that the advertising campaign was created in contravention to the principle on objectivity and impartiality, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the Swedish Work Environment Authority.
The police stopped a bus of counter-protestors on their way to a demonstration. The bus was searched and the protestors were exposed to a body search. The police photographed and filmed the counter-protesters. Their identity documents were also photographed. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that both the photography and filming of the counter-protestors is a coercive measure that requires legal grounds. There was no legal basis for the photography and filming of this event. Regarding the photography of the identity documents, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that there is no fundamental objection to the police photographing a person’s identification as part of the documentation of an intervention. A condition for such an occurrence is that the individual voluntarily hands over information about their identity and is prepared to allow their identification to be photographed. In this instance, the inquiry gave no support that this act was voluntary from those involved. The Police Authority is criticised for having photographed and filmed the counter-protesters and for having photographed their identification documents despite it being unclear if this action was voluntary. Furthermore, the Police Authority is criticised for its failure to document the body searches and search of the bus. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen suggests that the Police Authority continues its work to inform and train police officers to improve their understanding of when photography is a suitable measure. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen also states that there may be reason to review the chain of command for operations involving several groups with different tasks, and that any ambiguities that may exist amongst the participating police officers are eliminated.
A summary of the Annual Report for the fiscal year 2017/18 is now available for download on the web site.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen's overall statements for each supervisory area the year 2017/18.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen will recieve visits from Turkey and Belgium
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