Severe criticism of the Prison and Probation Service, Kumla Prison, for unauthorised eavesdropping on a telephone conversation between an inmate and his lawyer; also statements on inmates’ participation in hearings via video link

An inmate participated in a trial via video link from Kumla Prison, while his lawyer was on court premises. During a break in the hearing, the inmate had a telephone call with the lawyer, which was listened in on by prison staff who were also present in the video link room. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states that the eavesdropping was unauthorised and the prison therefore receives severe criticism.  The investigation shows that previously there was no possibility for prisoners to have confidential telephone conversations with their lawyers during short breaks in the trial in such cases. The Parliamentary Ombudsman emphasises that the prison has a responsibility to ensure that the ban on eavesdropping in prison is always upheld.

It has come to the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s attention that the Prison and Probation Service recently informed the Courts of Sweden that it would free up significant resources for the authority if hearings via video link could be carried out on a larger scale. In the light of the findings of the case, the Parliamentary Ombudsman emphasises, among other things, the importance of the Prison and Probation Service arranging for inmates to participate in such a way that they are not deprived of their access to effective defence when the defence counsel is elsewhere.

Date of decision: 2024-04-17