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Numerous problems in decision-making related to restrictive measures

A surprise inspection was carried out at Jussin Kodit child welfare institution in Haukipudas, at orders from the Deputy Ombudsman Maija Sakslin. Numerous issues were discovered during the inspection regarding the treatment of the resident children and decision-making in relation to restricting the children.

The Deputy-Ombudsman emphasised that the use of restrictive measures requires individual assessment of whether legal requirements are met and separate decisions. Restrictive measures can not be used as punishment.

The institution’s rules restricting the movement of the children and the denial of social relations were considered legally unfounded. During a restriction of movement, the child has in general the right to go to school. Where going to school is not deemed possible, specific grounds must be included in the decision.

The Deputy-Ombudsman demanded that a decision to isolate a child must clearly indicate the situation and behaviour that led to the isolation, the implementation method of the isolation, the assessment of the grounds for continuing the isolation, and the grounds for ending the isola-tion. Furthermore, the poor location of the isolation room, in the middle of the unit’s communal area, was criticised.

In addition, the Deputy-Ombudsman demanded that each child be duly informed of any decisions relating to their case and the content of such decisions. The children must be informed about their rights and the unit’s obligations in an understandable manner.

The Deputy-Ombudsman considered it important for the institution to draw up a specific plan for supporting the realisation of the child’s right to self-determination and to promote good treatment.

Since the inspection Jussin Kodit has been bought by Familar Oy. Familar Oy states that it has made several changes to the operations of the institution. The isolation room will be turned into an office, and the necessity of having an isolation room will be assessed. Restrictions of phone use have been cancelled. The children are now given spending money, and receipts for purchases are no longer required. Children can now move outside their units freely. Children in different units are permitted to communicate with each other, and visitors are allowed. The rules of the units have been discussed with the children, and the rules have been revised jointly. The children’s involvement has been increased through improved community meetings. In addition, Familar Oy has provided the staff with extensive further training.

The full inspection report 4099/2018 is available in Finnish on the Ombudsman’s website, www.oikeusasiamies.fi.

For more information, please contact Principal Legal Adviser Tapio Räty, tel. + 358 9 432 3379.