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.
During spring of 2018 the Parliamentary Ombudsmen received several complaints that stated that Försäkringskassan reward employees that reject many claims. Similar statements also appeared in the media. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen decided to send a referral, based on one complaint, to Försäkringskassan. The authority held, in their referral response, that such statements were inaccurate. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states, in its decision, that it is concerning and notable that several individuals, during a short time span, were of the opinion that Försäkringskassan violated the statutory requirement on objectivity. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen further notes that the investigation did not provide the required points of reference necessary to conclude if Försäkringskassan acted incorrectly. Further investigatory measures do not seem purposeful. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that there are no grounds to direct criticism towards Försäkringskassan.
During 2017, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen received several complaints regarding long processing times in cases pursuant to the Support and Service for Person with Certain Functional Impairments Act (LSS). In view of these complaints, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen found reasons to investigate the processing of cases pursuant to the Support and Service for Person with Certain Functional Impairments Act to examine the processing time. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen targeted four municipal boards to investigate the processing time in cases on personal assistance. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states, in its decision, that the processing time at the investigated boards, in general, were not long, even if there were some cases with longer processing time. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen has concluded, in previous decisions, that it is not possible to state when a case on personal assistance should be completed, due to the fact that the scope of the investigation relies on the circumstances of the individual case. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen states, that a feasible processing time of cases on personal assistance may be three to four months. Although, some cases may not be completed during such a time span. If the processing time exceeds four months, there should be a justified cause. The decision also deals with some factors that may have an impact on the processing time.
Pursuant to paragraph 14, section one, the Care of Young Persons Act (LVU), the Social Welfare Board holds a responsibility to ensure that a child’s need regarding relations with parents and custodians is facilitated. In review of the purpose of the care the board may, pursuant to paragraph 14, section one, the Care of Young Persons Act, take a decision on how the young person’s relations with custodians and parents is regulated, by a sentence or court order decision, or by an agreement. A decision need not be taken if the social services reach an agreement with the custodian or parent regarding the custody. If there is any uncertainty in the matter, between an individual’s position and the social services, regarding the custody, an individual’s perspective should, to the outmost extent, be clarified and put on record. In the present case, the custodian requested increased custody of their children, who were under care pursuant to the Care of Young Persons Act. The Social Welfare Board made the assessment that the custody should continue in the same extent as established, and, according to the board, the custodian did not object to this assessment. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen states that an act of passivity from a custodian not alone constitute a consent or an agreement on the custody. The board did not take any active measure to come to terms with the mother’s approach, accordingly the outset of the processing of the case should have been assumed on the basis that there were no agreement. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism to the board for not taking a decision on limited custody pursuant to paragraph 14, the Care of Young Persons Act.
A woman had been granted personal assistance pursuant to the Support and Service for Person with Certain Functional Impairments Act (LSS). In April 2017, the woman applied for a temporary expansion of the aid. Case officers questioned, in a meeting regarding the aid, if the women was at all entitled to personal assistance. The case officers took two decisions, in June 2017, on behalf of the board, not to grant the application on temporary expansion of the aid and moreover that the woman, following a re-examination, should not be granted personal assistance. The decision stated that a case officer had initiated a re-examination of the woman’s personal assistance. A municipal board is able, by a so-called order of delegation, to obligate a municipal employee to take a decision on behalf of the board regarding a certain case or a specific group of cases. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen holds that the capacity to delegate matters to case officers does not justify that a case officer processed a re-examination in a case concerning personal assistance. However, a delegated case officer can, in some cases, on behalf of the board, take a decision on the suspension of a granted aid. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen notes that the case officer was not assigned to the case as far as being able to conduct a re-examination of the aid. When taking into account the fact that the case officer lacked authorization to conduct a re-examination it becomes evident that the case officer has gone beyond the scope of their authority. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen directs criticism towards the board. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen also emphasise the importance of an explicit order of delegation. There must never be any ambiguity as to which decisions a case officer may take, on behalf of the board. In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen also directs criticism towards the board for not giving the woman’s father, who is also the woman’s trustee, the possibility to meet the case officers in accordance to paragraph 8 a, the Support and Service for Person with Certain Functional Impairments Act, to give an oral statement, prior to the re-examination. The board also receives criticism for failing in their obligation to communicate case documents and for the formulation of the decision.
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.
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.
Upcoming visits to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen include a delegation from Myanmar and officers from the Standing Police Monitoring Committee of 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