Byrne considers giving legal status to protection of vulnerable adults

Protection of vulnerable adults may be put on the same statutory footing as child protection after a report revealed less than 1 per cent of abuse allegations go to court.

Liam Byrne 125 x 125Care services minister Liam Byrne told an Action on Elder Abuse conference this week he would ask officials to examine how adult protection can be given the same legislative status as protecting children.

Adult protection is governed only by the No Secrets guidance which, campaigners say, has resulted in a lack of status and funding.

Putting adult protection on a statutory footing was one of three recommendations in a Department of Health-sponsored study published by the charity at the conference.

Byrne fully accepted the other two – introducing a national data collection system for abuse allegations and a performance indicator for social care and health to improve outcomes for victims – although the government had already backed these in principle.

Just five of 639 allegations of abuse resulted in prosecution, the six-month study of nine councils found. Yet 112 allegations were substantiated and 92 alleged victims and 48 alleged perpetrators were referred more than once during the collection period or the previous six months.

Project co-ordinator and report author Daniel Blake told the conference: “That does not mean successful prosecutions, just prosecutions. That’s an awfully low figure.”

The most frequent response to an allegation, in 152 cases, was “increased monitoring”, while no action was taken in 80 cases.

Although 65 care workers were identified as alleged perpetrators, just nine were referred to the Protection of Vulnerable Adults list.

Overall, 28 per cent of alleged abuse took place in a care home or hospital or was carried out by a paid care worker, while 22 per cent was carried out by family members. The alleged perpetrator was not recorded in 29 per cent of cases.

In one-third of cases the alleged victim was classified as an older person, a quarter had learning difficulties, 12 per cent a physical or sensory disability and 11 per cent a mental health problem.

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