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 police stopped a man as he exited a restaurant in Göteborg. The man was under the suspicion for using narcotics and therefore brought to a questioning. The police also took a decision to conduct a body search of the man. When the body search was completed, the man was kept for almost three hours, until the questioning began. During this period the police conducted a house search in the man’s home, to, among other things, search for narcotics. During the house search, the police came across objects that resulted in the man becoming a suspect for further crimes. The police did not find any narcotics in the man’s home.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s investigation reveals that there have been significant failures during the intervention of the man. The Police Authority is criticised for acting in force and in a way that is not defensible when considering the purpose of the intervention, for conducting a body search of the man without prerequisites to conduct a body search and for taking the man’s mobile phone into possession. The police authority is also criticised for taking a decision to question the man and for keeping him for three hours until the questioning took place. The investigation also proves that the Police Authority’s processing has failed when it comes to registering measures taken. The Police Authority has, in several cases, neglected to register the prerequisites that a decision has been based upon, until the Parliamentary Ombudsmen has initiated an investigation. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen finds this unacceptable.
According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, the investigation proves that the police planned to conduct a house search in the man’s home to search for inadmissible objects and took measures to make sure that the man would not be present at the house search. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that these actions can damage the police’s credibility in a negative way.
The police official that took a decision on coercive measures has, in connection to the statement that the Parliamentary Ombudsmen received, handed in inaccurate information and information that, in several respects, deviates from what other police officials present have declared. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen does not find that there are enough material to maintain that the police official knowingly has handed in inaccurate information to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, but emphasise that an official that hands in information to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen is under an obligation to tell the truth.
On the 30th of March 2016, several police units were ordered to Värta marina (Värtahamnen) in Stockholm because of a suspected aggravated rape on board of a ferry. When the ferry had arrived to the marina, a police inspector took a decision to conduct body searches pursuant to chapter 28, section 12 of the Code of Judicial Procedure. All female passengers were allowed to leave the ferry while all male passenger, around 500 men, were forced to stay. One by one, they were placed in front of a tinted glass wall, at the custom office, so that the injured party, on the other side of the wall, could identify the suspected offender. The injured party did not identify anyone of the men that passed the glass wall. Three offenders were instead arrested on board of the ferry.
One man, which was on the ferry, handed in a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen and questioned the fact that the police had forced the man to stay on the ferry. He stated, among other things, that he was forced to stay on the ferry for an hour and a half and that he, because of this, missed his flight.
According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen understanding, it was clear that all male passengers could not have been suspects of the crime. So forth there was no prerequisite to conduct a body search of all the men. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen further states that the measure, consisting of the injured party observing the possible offenders through a glass wall, could not constitute a body search pursuant to the Code of Judicial Procedure.
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen considers if the legal prerequisites were met when keeping the men pursuant to the Code of Judicial Procedure, and concludes that the measure lacked legal support.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen express that it is unacceptable that a police measure lacks legal basis and results in a large number of people having their liberty restricted. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the Police Authority for keeping the male passengers in the manner that occurred. The Police Authority is also criticised for not registering the decision that the measures were based upon.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen state that there might be a need to further the legislation within this scope as there may occur situations when the police need to keep persons on a specific place in order to conduct a criminal investigation. The decision is therefore forwarded to the Ministry of Justice.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen received a complaint against the Employment and Welfare Board in Kristianstad municipality regarding the processing of two cases pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU); on matters concerning the possibility to delegate decisions pursuant to section 14 of the Care of Young Persons Act, about not disclosing a youth’s domicile and limited custody
According to the board’s delegation order decisions pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act, about not disclosing the youth’s domicile and limited custody, was delegated to the board’s committee. A team leader at the administration decided, during the deliberation of the committee’s decision, that a child’s domicile should not be disclosed for the parents and to limit the father’s custody with the child. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s understanding, there was not enough reason to criticise the board for the processing of the case. The case did, however, raise a question regarding the board’s possibility to delegate the capacity to take a decision on the matter, in cases such as these.
The Supreme Administrative Court has, in their ruling HFD 2016 ref. 74, decided that a decision pursuant to section 17 of the Care of Young Persons Act, not to disclose a child’s domicile is a decision based on the exercise of a public authority and is a specific statement of principle. Such a decision is therefore taken by the “delegation alliance” pursuant to chapter 6, section 34, third paragraph, of the Local Government Act. The right to take such a decision can so forth not be delegated, with the exception of very urgent cases, and during these circumstances only by the chairman or other commissioner that the board has proposed.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling leads to decisions pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act, about not disclosing a youth’s domicile, cannot be delegated, during any circumstances, to a committee or other official. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s understanding the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling makes it possible to delegate the decision-making in certain cases. The question is, when it comes to the possibility to delegate, if it is possible to separate decisions about not disclosing a youth’s domicile and decisions on limiting custody.
There are municipalities were the municipality board is responsible for cases within the social services’ scope. Individual cases are usually not administrated by the municipality board. Instead, a committee administrates the cases. The purpose for this way of order is to safeguard the information included in the cases, since the information is of a sensitive nature, and should therefore be handled by a small circle.
That a committee is not able to take a decision on coercive measures in an individual case is, according to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, not pursuant to how the legislation should be interpreted. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that there are reasons to review the regulations on delegation within the scope of the Social Services Act and the Local Government Act.
Pursuant to section 4, of the Act with Instructions for the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, this decision is forwarded to the Government offices (Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Finance)
In a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, several complaints were raised regarding a Senior Lecturer’s actions in connection to an application on research grants and an application on doctoral studentship.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s investigation has shown that: the complainant got in contact with the Senior Lecturer as she wished to conduct her doctorate with the Senior Lecturer as her supervisor. To finance the research they applied for research grants from the Competition Authority. Along with the application, they attached a project description; the complainant was in principle the author of the description. Upon this, the complainant applied for a doctoral studentship at the university. Before the Competition Authority took a decision on research grants the Senior Lecturer received information that the student’s application on doctoral studentship at the university was rejected. At that point, a formal decision on the matter had not been taken by the university. The Senior Lecturer informed the Competition Authority that the complainant was not going to be accepted as a doctoral student, and shortly after the Senior Lecturer handed in a revised application on research grants to the Competition Authority. According to the new application, the project was going to be the Senior Lecturer’s project only. The new application’s project description on research grants was essentially identical with the project description in the previous application. The Senior Lecturer did not inform the complainant about her contact with the Competition Authority until the Competition Authority had taken a decision on research grants, and subsequent to the university’s decision to reject the application on doctoral studentship. When the decisions had been taken the Senior Lecturer initiated new contacts with the complainant and the Competition Authority. During the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s investigation it has been discovered that the Senior Lecturer, at several occasions, handed over information, that was inaccurate to the Competition Authority and to the complainant.
Pursuant to chapter 1, section 9 of the Instrument of Government, courts of law, administrative authorities and others performing public administration functions shall pay regard in their work to the equality of all before the law and shall observe objectivity and impartiality. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s understanding, the Senior Lecturer actions are in several regards contrary to the statute-regulated requirements on objectivity.
In addition to this, the Senior Lecturer has handed in inaccurate information regarding her actions to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, which goes against the obligation to tell the truth pursuant to chapter 13, section 6, second paragraph, of the Instrument of Government.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs severe criticism towards the Senior Lecturer.
An unaccompanied girl arrived to Sweden accompanied by her aunt and the aunt’s family members. The Migration Agency assigned the girl to Mönsterås municipality. When the girl arrived to Sweden, she stated that she was 13 years old and married to her cousin, an adult son in the aunt’s family.
The Social Welfare Board began an investigation of the girl’s situation in January 2016. The Social Welfare Board made efforts to find housing for the girl in agreement with the girl and her husband, but the girl did not agree on placement in another housing. The Social Welfare Board decided that coercive measures pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act was not justified and found no other possibility than to grant the girl aid pursuant to the Social Services Act, and so forth place the girl in the home of her aunt and aunt’s husband. The Social Welfare Board informed the girl and the family members regarding what is applicable for 13-year-olds in Sweden and placed certain demands on the family. The Social Welfare Board also assigned a social welfare worker to correspond with the girl and the family.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that a child below the age of 15 need to have unconditional protection against sexual acts. A child below the age of 15 that has sexual relation with an adult is subject to a crime. It holds no bearing if the child consents to the sexual act.
An indication that a child, below the age of 15, is married or is living in a relationship similar to a marriage with, for example, a son in the considered family home, is, according to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, an indication of such a character that it appears as inappropriate to place the child in the home, pursuant to the Social Services Act. The possible protective factors, which may exist in such a case, do not live up to the possible risks that a placement in the family home implies.
The Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that the Social Welfare Board’s assignment, to carefully follow up on the care, and make sure that a child placed in a family home is well taken care of, is one of the Social Welfare Board’s most fundamental assignments. In line with the facts that have become known of the girl the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that it was particularly important to monitor the girl’s situation and that the social services kept a close and continues correspondence with the girl and the family home.
According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, it was wrong to hand over the responsibility of monitoring the girl’s situation and the family home to a social welfare worker.
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the Social Welfare Board for placing the girl in the family home in spite of the fact that it had become known that the girl was below the age of 15 and married to a grown son in the family. The board also receives criticism for failures in the follow up of the care of the girl. Consequently, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that the failures in the processing of this case are severe.
In a decision dated May 24, 2016 former Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman Elisabeth Fura directed criticism towards the Prison and Probation Service for placing an intern in isolation at his unit (security unit) when the prerequisite for placing the intern in isolation were not met. In the decision, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman express some understanding regarding the difficulties that the Prison and Probation Service, according to the authority, face, when it comes to placing interns in a suitable context, but the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman states that the Prison and Probation Service does not hold the right to disregard the provisions regarding an intern’s stay pursuant to the Prison Act.
Due to complaints received during December 2016, from the same intern, regarding the fact that he and other interns were placed in isolation at security units without a decision on isolation, an investigation was initiated. The Prison and Probation Service held, in a statement to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen that as a consequence of the need to avoid inappropriate “client-constellations” there may be a situation where an intern is placed on their own in a security unit, during a limited time, and that such a secluded stay is not an isolated stay pursuant to the Prison Act.
The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman express, in the present case, that, according to her opinion, regardless of the difficulties that exists when it comes to locating suitable “client-constellations” it is unsatisfactory to discover that interns are placed at security units under conditions that result in an isolated stay in spite of the fact that the prerequisites for a placement in isolation are not met. According to the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman, the interns will also have problems getting their matter reviewed, as a formal decision on placement in isolation does not exist.
In view of the legal uncertainties that the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman considers are at hand when placing interns under such conditions were the interns in practice are placed in isolation without a formal decision and the lack of procedural guarantees in such situations, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman now raise the question of a review of the legislation within this area. A copy of the decision is sent to the Government offices.
A 16-year-old boy, N.N., was apprehended on January 6, 2016 suspected of a serious crime. Two days later the Social Services Department of Huddinge municipality was informed that N.N. should be apprehended if it was not possible to place him in a so-called “locked institution” pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU). The District Court of Uppsala municipality apprehended N.N. on January 9, 2016. On January 13, 2016 the Social Services Department met N.N. for the first time since he was deprived of his liberty. The following day N.N. was placed under care pursuant to section 6 of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU). The prosecutor revoked the apprehension and placed N.N. in a home for young people.
Only in exceptional cases are children suspected of a crime apprehended. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen has previously held that when a person below the age of 18 is apprehended there is a strong assumption that the youth shall immediately be placed under an order for care pursuant to section 6 of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU).
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that when considering N.N.’s age and the crimes he has been a suspect of, the question regarding placing him under an order for care, pursuant to section 6 of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU), should have become relevant upon the police’s correspondence with the administration on January 8, 2016. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that it was not until January 14, 2016 that a decision was taken on immediate care. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s understanding the authority’s slow case handling led to N.N. being apprehended for an unnecessarily long duration of time. The Social Welfare Board receives criticism for the processing of the case.
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen makes certain statements regarding the Social Services presence during a child examination.
A youth was under care at a residential home for young people in a secure unit pursuant to 15 b of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU). When the youth was moved to Bärby residential home for young people a decision was taken to terminate the care at the secure unit. Bärby residential home decided, that same day, to place the youth under care at the secure unit at Bärby. In total, during the time the youth spent at the two residential homes, the youth was kept under care at a secure unit for a considerably longer consecutive period than the two-months period specified in section 15 b, second paragraph, of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU).
In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that the respite of two-months pursuant to section 15 b, second paragraph of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU) was not adjusted as the youth was moved from one residential home to another. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards Bärby residential home for young people for not verifying if the youth had been under care at a secure unit before the youth was moved. Neglecting to do so resulted in the respite of two months, pursuant to section 15 b, second paragraph of the of the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU) was exceeded.
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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: 9.00–12.00, 13.00–15.00