Editorial comment: Adults at risk in new inspection regime?

Safeguarding children will be a priority for the new comprehensive area assessment (CAA) system that will herald a rolling programme of inspections.

But not so adult services, where inspections will be triggered by concerns over declining standards or evidence of service users at risk according to the Audit Commission’s consultation paper on the CAA.


Ministers want to reduce the inspection burden on public bodies but here there may be a case to argue that the CAA proposals risk throwing out vulnerable adults with the red tape bathwater.

In two articles this week we present different perspectives on the issue of safeguarding vulnerable adults. They arrive at the same conclusion, that there is a need for higher universal standards in this area, perhaps even legislation outlining strict responsibilities for local authorities.


Following some cases of serious harm to this group, it has been suggested that the state of safeguarding for vulnerable adults resembles that of children’s services 30 years ago.

One way to bring it up to the present might have been a rigorous inspection programme. What is clear is that a solution is needed as soon as possible to reduce the potential of harm to these service users.

• See pp9, 14 and 30

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