Within the framework of a follow-up under Chapter 11, Section 4 a of the Social Services Act concerning two children, representatives of the board talked to the children without the children’s guardians having been informed about the questioning beforehand and having had the opportunity to express their opinion on the action.
In a follow-up under Chapter 11, Section 4 a of the Social Services Act, a child may be questioned without the consent of the guardian and without the guardian being present (Chapter 11, Section 4 c and Chapter 11, Section 10 of the Social Services Act). In several previous decisions, the Parliamentary Ombudsman has commented on the option for the board to question children within the framework of an investigation under Chapter 11, Section 1 of the Social Services Act without first discussing the matter with the child’s guardians. At that time, the Parliamentary Ombudsman stated: as a general principle, the guardians’ agreement to allow questioning to be held with the child should be sought and taken into account as far as possible. It is not sufficient to simply inform the guardian that an questioning will be held when the board contacts a guardian before a questioning takes place with the child. The board must also ask for the guardian’s opinion on the action. If the child has two guardians, their respective positions must be clarified.
In this decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states that there is no reason to view the matter differently when it comes to holding questioning with children within the framework of a follow-up under Chapter 11, Section 4 a of the Social Services Act.
In its consultation response to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the board stated that the children were questioned after several unsuccessful attempts to contact the guardian, and that it was deemed necessary to talk to the children about their situation.
In their decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman sees no reason to criticise the board for having not asked the guardian about her opinion on questioning the children before the questioning took place. However, the Parliamentary Ombudsman emphasises in their decision that considerations as to why questioning takes place without contacting the parents beforehand must be documented.