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 Parliamentary Ombudsmen has, in several previous cases, directed criticism towards the Enforcement Authority for sending payments to the wrong person. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen now notes that this mistake has occurred yet again. The authority receives severe criticism for sending a payment to the debtor instead of the creditor and, when the mistake was discovered, waiting five months to pay the creditor.
In its decision the Parliamentary Ombudsmen focus on the matter of service duty when an individual enrols at Arbetsförmedlingen to cover their sickness benefit. When an individual enrols at Arbetsförmedlingen the authority registers the individual in a certain category. The register is used, inter alia, to facilitate a match between an applicant and available job opportunities. Cases on the estimation of sickness benefits is processed by Försäkringskassan. Pursuant to the provisions in chapter 26, section 13, first paragraph of the Social Insurance Act, a sickness benefit is covered as long as the individual is at the disposal of the employment market. Pursuant to the regulation (2000:1418) on the applicability of sickness benefits the sickness benefit covers an insured individual, not unemployed on a formal basis, but unable to return to their employment due to health issues. This is applicable given that the insured individual is prepared to accept an offered employment that meets the established sickness benefit, as well as seeks employment while enrolled at Arbetsförmedlingen. Försäkringskassan will appraise an individual’s availability on the employment market when assessing an individual’s sickness benefit. Försäkringskassan may need to look into an individual’s register at Arbetsförmedlingen to receive knowledge regarding the individual’s activities as a job seeker. Försäkringskassan is not bound to the category an individual holds at Arbetsförmedlingen when assessing a sickness benefit, but the measures of Arbetsförmedlingen is connected to the assessment of an individual’s benefits. In its decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen emphasise the importance, for authorities that have joint systems, to make sure that an individual’s benefits are not infringed. This is particularly important when an authority takes a decision or completes a measure that effects a decision that another authority has taken, on part of the individual, not least in cases concerning the right to certain benefits. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that Arbetsförmedlingen should have informed the individual that the category that the individual was placed under could risk that other authorities’ decisions and benefits could be effected. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards Arbetsförmedlingen for not living up the requirement on service duty when neglecting to give out the information.
The vice chairman at a social welfare board took a decision to immediately place a youth under an order for care pursuant to section 6 of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU). The decision was based on the probability on a need for care pursuant to section 2 and 3 of the Care of Young Persons Act. On the same day, the vice chairman decided to place the youth at a youth facility run by the National Board of Institutional Care, and requested so-called enforcement assistance to take the youth to the facility. The social welfare board applied, at the administrative court, to place the youth under an order for care pursuant to section 1, 2 and 3 of the Care of Young Persons Act. The administrative court took a decision to place the youth under care pursuant to section 1, second paragraph, and section 2 of the Care of Young Persons Act, but rejected the application on aid pursuant to section 3, of the Act. When the judgment had been announced, the youth was brought to the facility escorted by the police. In the opinion of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, the representatives of the social welfare board should have realized, when the administrative court came to a judgement, that it resulted in an adjustment of the care at the youth facility. The youth facility should have received information that the youth were no longer under care pursuant to section 3 of the Care of Young Persons Act. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs severe criticism towards the social welfare board for neglecting to inform the youth facility. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen also directs criticism towards the social welfare board for not revoking a request on so-called police enforcement assistance.
As a result of a court decision stipulating that a person should be admitted to a forensic psychiatric examination unit, an official at the National Board of Forensic Medicine submitted a request for police assistance in the enforcement of the admission decision. The underlying court decisions were attached to the request. However, the official at the National Board of Forensic Medicine lacked the authority to request assistance. Furthermore, in the request for assistance, it was stated that taking the person into custody for the purpose of admitting them could be done from a certain date. The admission decision had not, however, entered into legal force on the stated date. Despite these circumstances, the Police Authority provided the assistance before the admission decision had gained legal force. As a result, the person concerned was wrongly deprived of liberty for an estimated duration of one hour. Regarding the handling of the matter by the National Board of Forensic Medicine, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that the regulation in the area - as well as the authority’s written guidelines - gives clear information about when a decision may be enforced and who may request assistance. However, since the National Board of Forensic Medicine’s disciplinary board has issued the employee concerned with a warning for their actions, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen does not find any reason to further comment on the processing at the National Board of Forensic Medicine. Regarding the handling of the matter by the Police Authority, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen concludes that it is clear from the authority’s handbook on assistance that it must be verified that the person requesting assistance is authorised to do so. In this situation, it did not appear from the request for assistance that this was the case. The relevant officers at the Police Authority should therefore have taken measures to verify the authority. In this case, the officers concerned should also not have relied on the information provided in the assistance request regarding the timing of enforceability. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, the Police Authority cannot avoid criticism for the deficiencies in the formal control exercised in the assistance case. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen requires that the authority follows up the incident and takes action so that similar occurrences do not take place in the future.
A police officer took a man into custody for identification, searched him and took his phone. The police based their intervention on the fact that there may be a warrant for the man’s arrest, among other things, because he did not want to identify himself. The man filmed much of the intervention but was repeatedly told to stop filming. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that the circumstances of the intervention were not such that there was reason to assume that the man was wanted, and that there were therefore no legal grounds for the intervention. From the point of view of legal certainty and for public insight into the work of the police, it is important that individuals have the opportunity to film the police, provided that it does not actively prevent the police work or, for example, constitute a security risk. Regarding the risk that individuals filming police interventions will process the footage in violation of what applies concerning the processing of personal data, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that there is very limited scope for a police officer to instruct a person to cease engaging in certain behaviour purely on the basis of a personal opinion or desire. It is important that a police officer does not express themselves or act in such a way that an individual perceives it as a coercion to stop filming, or otherwise gets the impression that they are obligated to follow an instruction to stop filming. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen also points out that caution must be observed in such a situation so that the police’s actions do not conflict with the constitutional right to freedom of information. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that the police’s repeated instructions to stop filming were not acceptable.
A Chief Commissioner has, on a large number of occasions, used his private e-mail address for communication in active duty. Admittedly, no sensitive or classified information has been disclosed and the Chief Commissioner has not failed to register any public documents. However, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen finds that the use of this private e-mail address in active duty has been of such an extent that the Chief Commissioner, with regard to the risks involved in the use and the importance of compliance with existing regulations, cannot avoid criticism. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that it is clear from the detailed instructions given in the Police Authority’s governing documents that a private e-mail address is not to be used in active duty, or at least only in purely exceptional cases. In light of what is stated in the authority’s guidelines, it must also appear clear to a police employee that there is a risk that information in an e-mail, to or from a private e-mail address, may be disclosed. The use of a private e-mail address in active duty entails a risk that public documents will not be registered and that document disclosures will be made more difficult. There is also a risk that suspicion will arise that the private e-mail address is being used to circumvent public access to documents. However, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen finds it remarkable that the Police Authority, during the period in question, provided a system that entailed such a risk of error as illustrated by this case.
A man called the Public Employment Service and wanted to discuss his son’s case. The man talked to an employment officer and stated that he had power of attorney to represent the son. The employment officer confirmed that the son was registered with the Public Employment Service but did not discuss the case because she felt that there was no consent to do so from the son. The employment officer subsequently sent an e-mail to the son and told him that the man had called her. She also told him that she could not see that the son had consented to information about him being disclosed by the Public Employment Service. The son responded by e-mail and gave his consent to her talking to the man. However, the employment officer made the assessment that the e-mail was not sufficient for consent to be deemed given. The employment officer did not inform the son of her assessment. The man subsequently requested on several occasions to gain access to documents in his son’s file. The request did not specify what documents the man wanted to access. It was only after a little over two months that the Public Employment Service requested that the man specify his request, and only after about three months that the man received a decision in the matter. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the Public Employment Service for confirming that the son was registered with the authority during the telephone conversation with the man. Furthermore, the Public Employment Service is criticised for not informing the son of the assessment of the consent he provided via e-mail. The Public Employment Service also receives criticism for not having promptly asked the man to specify his request for access to documents, for not informing him of his right to receive a written rejection decision, and for the long processing time in the disclosure matter.
AA was arrested as suspected of assault and placed in a detention centre. His lower leg has been amputated and he has a prosthesis below the left knee. In connection with the search, the Police Authority decided to take his prosthetic leg from him, among other things. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that a decision to take a prosthetic leg away from a detainee in a detention centre must be preceded by individual considerations of whether the action is necessary and what consequences it could have if the detainee is allowed to keep their prosthesis. The considerations should also relate to how it can be judged to affect the individual if their prosthesis is taken from them, and what possible adjustments in the cell may be needed. Furthermore, it must be considered whether supervision needs to be expanded to ensure the detainee’s safety and possible need of assistance. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, in this case there is no concrete information in the investigation that indicates there was a risk of AA harming himself. Even if, based on the information in the case, it cannot be ruled out that there was a risk that AA could harm others with the prosthetic leg, that risk should have been managed in a less intrusive way than taking away the prosthesis from AA. Overall, the investigation does not support the assertion that it was necessary to take the prosthetic leg from AA with reference to order and safety. It is also a shortcoming that the Police Authority does not seem to have reflected on whether any special measures were required to facilitate AA during his stay in the cell after having his prosthetic leg taken away. The Police Authority cannot avoid criticism for AA not being allowed to keep his prosthesis when he was put in the cell.
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 South Korean National Police Agency will visit the Parliamentary Ombudsmen on April 29
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