The invisible abusers

Only a few years ago the protection of vulnerable adults moved up
the policy agenda as child protection had a couple of decades
earlier. The challenge of preventing and responding to adult abuse
was different from that of child abuse, but what they had in common
was the secrecy of the crime, the exploitation of the weak by the
strong and the reluctance of society to admit the existence of this
dark underside. During the 1990s policies and procedures were
produced locally to deal with the abuse of vulnerable adults and by
the end of the decade the Department of Health had produced
guidance on implementing multi-agency policies to tackle the

So it is a sad comment on the priorities of this government that
the momentum has been lost. While child protection takes on
ever-increasing significance, adult protection has all but
disappeared from view. The latest setback is the omission of
Criminal Records Bureau checks from new standards covering staff
working in home care, even though they had been included in the
earlier draft standards. The draft said that the CRB checks were
“necessary because of the nature of personal domiciliary care”.
Well, if such checks were necessary then, they are surely necessary
now, and the Department of Health’s decision to leave them out of
the final version can only be a craven expedient to relieve the CRB
of further embarrassment over its backlog of work. There isn’t even
a role in the standards for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults
list, which was supposedly to be introduced under the Care
Standards Act 2000.

None of this is to say that the standards entirely neglect adult
abuse. But if it is genuinely committed to eradicating this
peculiarly nasty and insidious crime, the government must regain
the sense of urgency that has lately been so seriously lacking.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.