New laws may cut abuse prosecutions

Proposed legislation to protect vulnerable adults in Scotland could cut the number of prosecutions for abuse, the Scottish parliament’s health committee has been warned.

Committee convener Roseanna Cunningham said measures in the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Bill allowing councils to apply for banning orders against people suspected of abuse might be used instead of criminal law.

She said: “My concern is this [abuse of vulnerable adults] will move out of criminal law and people will be dealt with by a completely different process. If someone has enough evidence to go to a sheriff for a banning order, why aren’t they going to the police?”

The proposed order would ban an alleged abuser from a specified place for up to six months.

The committee was also told that councils might find it difficult to implement some of the legislation. Committee member Dr Jean Turner said it would be difficult to prove abuse in some circumstances, such as when vulnerable people who lived together made accusations about each other.

Jude Payne, of the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, said voluntary groups had wanted reassurances that councils would have to provide a care package to enable vulnerable people to continue living at home when banning orders were made against primary carers.


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