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.
AA submitted information about being eligible for Swedish social insurance to Försäkringskassan on 1 December 2016. On the same date, she also applied for child allowance. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that it took two months until the investigation commenced and that the insurance eligibility was not established until more than a year later. The unacceptable long processing time was mainly due to the lack of activity on Försäkringskassan’s part. The decision also notes that the Parliamentary Ombudsmen has completed a total of six decision on the same date criticising Försäkringskassan for slow processing of cases concerning insurance eligibility. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen intends to monitor the development in this area.
In four cases, Försäkringskassan has taken five to eight weeks to forward appeals to the Administrative Court. Försäkringskassan has stated that this is partly due to an increasing influx of appeals. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that an increased influx of cases does not mean that longer processing times are acceptable, and refers to previously issued statements that it shall take no more than a week to determine if an appeal has been received on time, make an assessment pursuant to chapter 113, section 3 of the Social Insurance Code, and forward the case to the court.
In October of 2015, the Social Welfare Board decided to place an unaccompanied minor in a family home. The placement was carried through without the Social Welfare Board first investigating the family home in question. An investigation was not opened until November 2016. The board’s investigation found several circumstances that meant that the board could not approve the child’s placement in the family home, and the child was subsequently moved to a new family home. Pursuant to chapter 6, section 6, second paragraph of the Social Services Act, a Social Welfare Board may not place a child in a family home without first investigating the situation in the home and its capacity to provide care. In the decision, the Social Welfare Board is criticised for placing the child in a foster home that had not been investigated prior to the placement and which the board lacked sufficient knowledge of.
During a meeting with a private individual and a supervisor at a work placement, Arbetsförmedlingen reviewed confidential information about the individual. Arbetsförmedlingen had not obtained the individual’s consent to disclose the confidential information to the supervisor prior to the meeting. Sometime after the meeting, a copy of the document with the confidential information was given to the supervisor, in order to be forwarded to the individual. The document was kept in an unsealed folder along with other documents.
As part of a case regarding activity compensation, Försäkringskassan posed a number of questions to Arbetsförmedlingen. Despite repeated reminders, it took two months before a reply was received from Arbetsförmedlingen. Neither Försäkringskassan’s inquiry nor the contacts that took place between the two authorities were documented by Arbetsförmedlingen. Arbetsförmedlingen is criticised for its passivity resulting in the long processing time in the activity compensation case. The authority is also criticised for its records not meeting the set requirements. As the Parliamentary Ombudsmen has repeatedly found Arbetsförmedlingen to keep inadequate documentation, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen expects the agency to immediately take further measures in addition to the measures already under way.
In April of 2017, Härjedalen Municipality sent out a newsletter with information to all municipality managers about the employees’ contacts with the media. The newsletter states that employees holds the right to freedom of speech and the freedom to contact the media, but that they do not have the right to contact the media during work hours, and that they cannot comment on matters that are subject to confidentiality. It also stated that media representatives are not entitled to enter the municipality’s premises and that they must schedule a meeting with the relevant manager if they want to interview an employee. The Parliamentary Ombudsman finds that the information cannot be seen as anything but a general prohibition of municipal employees having contact with media during office hours, which is unacceptable. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that the way in which the information in the newsletter is presented makes it seem like the employees’ freedom of speech is more limited than it is. The information also makes it seem like the municipality generally has a negative attitude towards employees exercising their right to talk to journalists. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds it unacceptable that a municipality gives such false information to its employees. The Municipal Board of Härjedalen is criticised for the content and presentation of the information.
Since 2006, the Prison and Probation Service has had temporary remand operations in the Police Authority’s detention premises in Östersund. During an Opcat inspection in 2013, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen stated that the Prison and Probation Service should seriously consider the suitability of continuing to use the premises as a remand prison. After a second Opcat inspection 2016, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen found that, unless immediate action was taken, the Prison and Probation Service should stop placing persons on remand in the premises. Some changes have subsequently been made to the premises. Furthermore, the Prison and Probation Service’s intention is for the premises to only be used for placement of inmates with restrictions. Despite these changes, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen finds that the fact remains that the current premises are unsuited for use as a remand prison. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, Östersund’s geographical location is not enough to justify keeping persons on remand in the premises. The only reasonably solution is thus for the Prison and Probation Service to stop using the current premises as a remand prison and not resume the use of remand operations in Östersund until suitable premises are found. According to the Prison and Probation Service, new remand prison premises are expected to be ready in the spring of 2020.
The Tax Agency exercises a certain routine that includes that all personalized mail, that the Agency receives, shall be opened by the authority, with the exception of mail directed to recipients that holds a separate position, mail concerning private matters, which is noted by an additional envelope stating a person’s address, or mail including a specific reference and so-called agency assignments. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that the Agency’s routine is not in compliance to statutory regulations and may lead to penalties for separate employees that open mail directed to others, pursuant to the authority’s routine, without his or hers consent. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the Tax Agency for the routine.
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: 9.00–11.30, 13.00–15.00