Adult protection: Mind issues warning over state intervention

Mind has warned that the adult protection sector needs to learn the lessons from mental health about the dangers of state intervention in people’s lives.

Anna Bird, policy and campaigns manager at the charity, made the comment after confirming that Mind had declined to join a coalition to push for legislation on adult protection in response to the government’s current consultation on revising the 2000 No Secrets guidance.

The coalition is led by adult protection charities Action on Elder Abuse and Voice UK and has received support from 55 voluntary and statutory organisations. It had originally been expected that Mind would join the coalition.

Consultation with service users

Bird said Mind would not draw up a position on adult protection legislation until it had consulted fully with its networks of service users, through surveys and focus groups.

But she said that there were “lots of points on which we completely agree” with the coalition, citing its support for duties on agencies to co-operate and share information in relation to protecting adults.

However, she said Mind had serious concerns about giving professionals, including social workers, powers to enter people’s homes if they had evidence that a vulnerable adult was at risk. This is one of the key goals of a number of proponents of legislation, including Action on Elder Abuse.

Learning lessons from mental health

Bird added: “We do have concerns about the experience in mental health about giving health professionals and the police powers to go into people’s homes when they have the capacity to refuse. That colours forever the way people see the police and the health service – as coercive forces. We need to learn those lessons from mental health.”

She said Mind’s consultation process would ask service users whether they felt vulnerable, and under what circumstances, what would make them feel safer and how they wanted the authorities to respond.

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