Open Forum 12/10/2006

Protection of vulnerable adults is two years old but there are still problems implementing the list, writes Katerina Clarke

When implementation of the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (Pova) list took place in July 2004, it was expected that there would be an initial flurry of activity followed by a period of settling down.

It comes as a surprise then that, far from abating two years after its implementation, Pova referrals are actually on the increase.  The other shock is the sheer volume.

While Protection of Children Act referrals average 20 to 30 a month, Pova referrals number 10 times that amount. But of the 4,500 or so referrals since July 2004 as many as half of them have been rejected.

There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the referral does not come within the scheme, the Pova team are still receiving referrals from the health sector for example. The other is that the referral does not meet the criteria. To meet the conditions of the Pova list, the referral has to demonstrate misconduct that harmed or placed a vulnerable adult at risk of harm. Fiddling one’s expenses, even if it results in a criminal charge, is not considered a danger to a vulnerable adult.

There are those who challenge this – if one has shown a propensity for committing a criminal offence one has also demonstrated a reason not to be trusted. That, surely, is a good enough reason to consider that a person is a risk to vulnerable adults.

Also, there is still concern over the number of referrals that aren’t being made but should be. Supporting a referral with enough evidence, when the victim lacks mental capacity, is difficult especially when police don’t want to get involved. And often service providers will want to put as much distance between themselves and any incident which shows their business in a bad light.

No one believed the implementation of the Pova list was going to be straightforward – and it hasn’t been.

Katerina Clarke works for Action on Elder Abuse

● Action on Elder Abuse/DH conference, Making Referrals to the Pova List, Llandrindod Wells, 18 October,

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.