The visit to emergency institution for young people shows the need for clearer procedures for conducting body searches

After a visit to the child welfare service’s emergency institution for young people, the Parliamentary Ombudsman calls for, among other things, clearer procedures for conducting body searches and other searches.

Read the report (in Norwegian only).

‘Body searches, particularly if they involve full removal of clothing, are an invasive measure’, says Parliamentary Ombudsman Aage Thor Falkanger. During the visit to the child welfare service’s emergency institution for young people, it became evident that there were inadequate procedures for how body searches are to be carried out in the most considerate way possible. Clear procedures can reduce the risk of the young people being subjected to degrading treatment.

The information that emerged during the visit also suggested that the young people were not always given an opportunity to be present when their possessions were being searched.

Visit in December

The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) visited the child welfare service’s emergency institution for young people between 6 and 8 September 2016. The NPM notified the institution that the visit would take place in the period between November and December 2016. The date of the visit was not announced.

The institution receives young people between the ages of 12 and 18 and is approved for eight people. This is the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s second visit to a child welfare institution under its prevention mandate.

During the visit, both the open and closed unit were inspected. Interviews were also conducted with the young people, staff and the administration.

Unwelcoming admission room in the closed unit

In general, the institution appeared to be well designed. The admission rooms in the closed unit, however, were bare and unattractive, and not conducive to a good first impression of the institution.

‘Well-designed physical surroundings for the young people, including the admission rooms, are an important preventive measure. The institution should ensure that the admission rooms are designed in a way that ensures a dignified admission process in a safe and welcoming environment,’ says Aage Thor Falkanger.  When the NPM returned to the institution to conduct a concluding meeting with the administration, steps had been taken to make one of the admission rooms more welcoming.

Encourages dialogue with the police

During the visit, the NPM was informed that the police sometimes use invasive coercive measures when transporting the young people to the institution. Selecting coercive measures and transporting young people to the institution are the responsibility of the police.

‘A dialogue between the child welfare institutions and the police can nonetheless help to reduce the risk of force being used in vulnerable transition situations,’ says Aage Thor Falkanger.