Action on Elder Abuse to form alliance for safeguarding legislation

Action on Elder Abuse, Mind and Voice UK will launch an alliance to campaign for legislation on safeguarding adults in England next month.

Action on Elder Abuse chief executive Gary FitzGerald said the alliance – representing the older people’s, mental health and learning disability sectors – would seek to shape the Department of Health’s review of the No Secrets guidance.

A consultation on the review was launched yesterday. FitzGerald said the coalition would be based on the Making Decisions Alliance, which was set up in 2002 and successfully campaigned for a legislative framework to support decision-making by people who lack mental capacity in the shape of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

It would be open to both statutory and voluntary bodies.

Open mind on legislation

The news came as the DH said it had an open mind on introducing legislation on safeguarding adults, in its consultation document for the No Secrets review.

Earlier this month, Community Care reported that the DH would shy away from legislation in the consultation. But yesterday’s document poses a number of questions about how far legislation on safeguarding adults would improve multi-agency working and help social workers and other professionals respond to abuse allegations.

On the first point, options cited by the document include putting adult safeguarding boards on a statutory footing with accompanying duties to commission and contribute to serious case reviews, putting them on a par with local safeguarding children boards.

Right of entry to premises

On the second point, it asks whether the police and other professionals, including social workers, should have the right to gain entry to people’s homes if abuse is suspected, something the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has campaigned for.

Speaking yesterday, care services minister Phil Hope said: “We want to know whether legislation is the right way forward: there are arguments on both sides. I want to hear views on balancing people’s rights and safety.”

He said the DH would examine Scottish legislation on the issue, passed last year. FitzGerald praised the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 for introducing a duty on agencies to co-operate in council inquiries about abuse, and a right of entry to premises where abuse is suspected for council officers.

However, he warned the DH against the Scottish legislation’s measures to enable councils to apply to the courts to have an alleged abuse victim removed from a property or an alleged perpetrator banned from it against the wishes of the alleged victim.

100 consultation questions

The DH consultation document asks around 100 questions including:-

  • Where should leadership for safeguarding adults lie, nationally and locally?
  • Should a joint inspection system be set up to examine local safeguarding arrangements?
  • What evidence is there that increased funding for safeguarding will lead to improved outcomes?
  • Should information about the safety of a person be passed between agencies and will this require legislation?
  • Should legislastion be introduced putting safeguarding adult boards on a statutory footing, including a duty to commission and contribute to serious case reviews?
  • Should there be a power to enter premises where it is suspected a vulnerable adult is being abused and should this apply to the police only, or to social workers and other professionals as well?
  • Should such a power apply when an adult has mental capacity and may be self-neglecting or self-harming?

Related articles

Action on Elder Abuse: ‘Adult protection needs legal backing’

Safeguarding: Should councils have a duty of care to vulnerable adults?

No Secrets review: Whose business is safeguarding?

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