Charity pushes for new laws to bolster adult protection

New legislation is required to secure adequate resources for adult protection services and give them the same status as child protection, a new campaign claims.

Charity Action on Elder Abuse launched a campaign for legislation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland last week, calling on other agencies to join an Adult Protection Alliance to push for reform. Adult protection legislation was passed this year in Scotland (see The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act).

Action on Elder Abuse said adult protection work was neglected because it was implemented under guidance across the three countries, and therefore not mandatory.

It said the legislation could place a duty to investigate allegations of adult abuse on professionals and a duty to prioritise and co-operate on adult protection work on agencies.

Chief executive Gary FitzGerald (pictured) said: “The only legal powers [adult protection coordinators] have to fall back on [at the moment] are existing criminal law. Under this they don’t have powers to investigate if they go to a property, they don’t have powers of entry. Too often you have to collaborate with the alleged abusers to gain access to the alleged victim.”

But Andrew Holman, a social care consultant at Inspired Services, working with people with learning difficulties, said: “There are already laws against abuse. The issue is that we are not actually able to make those laws effective. Therefore will this law be more effective or is it just legislation for legislation’s sake?”

Last March, then care services minister Liam Byrne promised to examine the case for adult protection legislation but the Department of Health has not reported back on this.

The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act (back to top)
This allows professionals to temporarily remove people from their homes against their wishes if they believe they are at risk, even if they possess capacity. They are also able to ban alleged abusers from going near the victim without the latter’s consent. FitzGerald says Action on Elder Abuse was “very uncomfortable” with the act and did not want its proposed laws to go this far.

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 Amy Taylor


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