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Municipal parking supervision may be entrusted only to a municipal office holder

31.3.2009

Deputy-Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen has criticised the action of the City of Helsinki Municipal Parking Overseer, who assigned persons other than municipal parking wardens to supervise parking. In the Port of Helsinki the tasks had been assigned to traffic supervisors, on property belonging to the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa to security guards and in the grounds of Koskela Hospital to employees of a private security company. 

The Deputy-Ombudsman emphasises that the tasks of a parking warden can be assigned only to a municipal officer holder on whom the right to supervise parking has been bestowed and who is a member of the municipal parking supervision personnel. These tasks can not be entrusted to a party who does not belong to this category of personnel.

The relevant Act requires a municipality to appoint a municipal parking overseer and a sufficient number of parking wardens. Only they can perform municipal parking supervision tasks.

The Deputy-Ombudsman points out that the tasks of parking wardens subordinate to a municipal parking overseer include the exercise of public power. Under the Constitution, tasks of this kind can be entrusted to persons other than officials only through an Act or on the basis of one. The Parking Offences Act does not include a provision that would permit a parking supervision task to be entrusted to a party who is not a member of the municipal supervisory personnel.

The Local Government Act requires tasks involving the exercise of public power to be performed within an official employment relationship. Therefore official posts must be created for persons who perform parking supervision tasks so that they are in an official employment relationship with the municipality.

The unlawfulness of the City of Helsinki Municipal Parking Overseer’s action had been established in a decision by the Helsinki Administrative Court in autumn 2007. The Deputy-Ombudsman decided on his own initiative to examine the Overseer’s action and what measures he had taken as a result of the court’s decisions. According to a report received by the Deputy-Ombudsman, the Overseer had, as a result of the court’s decisions, ceased to entrust parking supervision tasks to parties not belonging to the municipal supervisory personnel.

For future reference, the Deputy-Ombudsman drew the attention of the City of Helsinki Municipal Parking Overseer to his views with regard to entrusting the tasks of a parking warden only to a municipal office holder. He also informed the Helsinki police service and the Ministry of the Interior of his view and asked the latter to ensure that comparable unlawful assignments of parking supervision tasks do not occur elsewhere in Finland. In addition, he sent copies of his decision to the Helsinki City Board and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities for their information.

In the view of the Deputy-Ombudsman, the question of whether it would be necessary and should it be statutorily possible under the Parking Offences Act to entrust a municipal parking supervision task to a party other than an official belongs to the sphere of decision making on societal policy. Therefore, as an overseer of legality, he does not deem it appropriate to propose this. Nevertheless, he sent a copy of his decision to the Ministry of Justice for information.

Additional information will be provided by Legal Adviser Ulla-Maija Lindström, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3355.