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Policeman forced to bring sick kids to court

Published: 02 Feb 2014 10:36 GMT+01:00

The incident occurred at the Gotenburg district court in late January when the man, Patrick Nordgren, was due to give evidence regarding road traffic offences. However both his children, aged 18 months and three and a half years old respectively, were ill and he had no family assistance. 

Nordgren rang the district court in the morning to say he was unable to make it, but in the afternoon he was told to show up or face a financial penalty.

"I was told that if I wasn't there in 30 minutes then I would get a fine of 2,000 kronor ($300)," Nordgren told the TT news agency.

In the event the officer decided to bring his two ill children into court so he could testify. Nordgren made it clear that he was uncomfortable about bringing his children into contact with criminals who can often arrive at court armed.

"When the law forces me to expose my young children to this environment and these risks then a serious boundary has been crossed," he said.

Since the incident Nordgren has written about it on social media, which has prompted a number of other officers to post similar stories.

One officer in Stockholm had to bring his children to court to testify about the recent riots in the capital, where many police were subsequently subjected to hatred and threats.

A spokesperson for the Swedish Police Union (Polisförbundet) lashed out at the legal pressure put on their officers who had to bring sick children into the courtroom.

"It it completely unacceptable that you have to expose children to a trial. The police are threatened and have to put up with abuse on the internet, so the last thing you want to happen is that your family will be affected by your profession and the tasks that you have," said the Police Union's chairperson Lena Nitz.

Legal experts have said that the law is not clear on the matter and that there should be some room for flexibility.

"But if a child is sick, too small to be left alone and no else can take of the child then it's a valid excuse, then he should have been able to not appear in court without sanctions," said Mats Sjösten, chief judge in the Varberg district court to TT.

He added that in future one possibility could be for an absent officer to give evidence over the phone.

Following the incident the Gothenburg district court have admitted they made a mistake, but their apology isn't enough for Nordgren who has pledged to take the matter further to the Parliamentary Ombudsman (Justitieombudsmannen).

"This also affects other witnesses and I feel that somebody has to push this," he said.  

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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