Adult safeguarding boards will be made compulsory for councils and their partners by being put on a statutory footing, care services minister Paul Burstow announced today.
Putting adult safeguarding boards into law was one of 76 recommendations from the Law Commission in its review of adult social care, published last week.
Campaigners have long argued that safeguarding boards need statutory backing to be fully effective.
“I am determined that we strengthen the law to protect the most vulnerable people in our society,” said Burstow.” By making safeguarding adults boards mandatory, we aim to make them more effective and ensure those at risk of harm or exploitation will be safer.”
“I think this ought to make it easier for social care professionals but the devil is in the detail,” said Pete Morgan, chair of the Practitioner Alliance Against the Abuse of Vulnerable Adults.
He added that new legislation would need to make clear what responsibilities agencies have with regards to safeguarding.
The government will also lay down six principles to govern the actions of adult safeguarding boards.
• Empowerment – taking a person-centred approach, whereby users feel involved and informed.
• Protection – delivering support to victims to allow them to take action.
• Prevention – responding quickly to suspected cases.
• Proportionality – ensuring outcomes are appropriate for the individual.
• Partnership – information is shared appropriately and the individual is involved.
• Accountability – all agencies have a clear role.
The government said it expected all professionals to follow these principles when discharging their duties and making professional judgements in safeguarding cases.
“We must obviously watch closely the development of local strategies in order to ensure they meet these outcomes,” said Gary FitzGerald, chief executive of Action on Elder Abuse. “And without overarching guidance to ensure consistency, we need to be satisfied that this more localised approach will be effective. But today is a good start.”
The current statutory guidance, No Secrets, will remain in effect until 2013.
The Law Commission also recommended placing a duty on councils to investigate suspected instances of abuse but the government has not, so far, agreed this.
Find out more
Paul Burstow will be speaking at Community Care Live on Wednesday 18 May.
On Thursday 19 May, the Law Commission will contribute to a session at Live on adult social care law reform: implications for adult safeguarding.
All events are free to social care professionals who register in advance.
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