Council seeks stronger safeguards after killing at Surrey care home

The death of a care home resident at the hands of a fellow patient has led to calls for adult protection to be given the same statutory weight as that afforded to children.

A serious case review into the adult protection issues raised by the killing of Angela Titley at a mental health unit in Surrey is likely to argue that the current statutory framework is not strong enough.

Ronald Roberts, 72, was jailed for life at the Old Bailey last week after admitting the manslaughter by diminished responsibility of Titley.

Roberts had started a relationship with the 56-year-old after being admitted to the mixed-sex, low-security Shrewsbury Court ward at Whitepost care home in Redhill, even though he had a history of assaults on women.

Diagnosed with a severe personality disorder, he stabbed Titley three days after failing to receive the injection of anti-psychotic drugs he was due to have once every three weeks.

Judge Anthony Morris QC said there were numerous and alarming shortcomings in the care given to Roberts and his victim.

An external inquiry into the treatment and care of Roberts and Titley has been commissioned by South West London Health Authority and Kent and Medway Strategic Health Authority, the two originating authorities.

The serious case review, led by Surrey Council, started in May and focused on the way agencies worked together.

It has not yet been published, but Surrey adult protection manager Louise Lamb said a legal framework that mirrored child protection would help prevent adults “falling through the gaps”.

She added: “There’s no statutory partnership arrangement in place for adult protection as there is for child protection.”

Lamb said agencies such as social services and the police had a role in protecting vulnerable adults but there was no statutory duty requiring them to work together, ring-fenced funding or a responsibility on any single agency to take the lead.

Action on Elder Abuse chief executive Gary FitzGerald said adult protection was only covered by guidance, which was likely to be a lower priority for authorities than the statutory responsibilities to children.

FitzGerald said many councils were hard pressed to fulfil even the minimum standards set out in the guidance.

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