The most vulnerable people in society will be better protected by local agencies such as councils, the police and the NHS, care services minister Phil Hope has announced.
In response to the Government’s consultation on strengthening protection for vulnerable adults, new legislation will be introduced to enshrine in law the need for every local area to have in place a Safeguarding Adults Board – a body made up of the local social services authority, the police, the NHS and working with all other groups involved in protecting vulnerable adults. The board will ensure that vulnerable adults who suffer abuse will have quick and easy access to the people who can help them best.
The Government, working with stakeholders, will now set in train a programme of work to lead and support all agencies involved in safeguarding adults. It will ensure that everyone involved in the care of vulnerable adults has the skills to protect them.
There will also be a new cross Government ministerial group which will oversee the safeguarding of vulnerable adults, set priorities, work up new policy and provide national leadership.
Phil Hope, said: "Vulnerable adults deserve the best protection we can give them – that often means many local agencies being involved in their care. We are going to make it law that every local area must have a Safeguarding Adults Board to look after the most vulnerable people. Some areas already do this and they do it well but I want it to be mandatory and effective for everyone.
"A new Ministerial group will oversee the safeguarding of vulnerable adults. Along with Ministerial colleagues across Government, I will set priorities, new policy and provide a strategic co-ordination role. Our first goal will be to push through legislation on Safeguarding Adults Boards and to issue new and improved guidance."
The announcement builds on previous measures which include making every independent care home subject to the Human Rights Act and giving the Care Quality Commission tough powers to penalise or close down care providers who offer substandard care.
The Government is also working with the General Social Care Council on a system of registration for home care workers. This will strengthen protection of vulnerable people, raise the quality of care provided and help prevent abuse.
Legislation that can, and is, being used to safeguard adults includes the Criminal Justice Act 1988, the Mental Capacity Act, 2005, the Fraud Act, the Mental Health Act 1983, the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, as well as health and safety at work legislation.
By enabling adult services to work more effectively together, the Government is tightening the net so that more offenders are caught and punished within existing law. This approach takes into account the views of many older people and many people with disabilities who say they do not want social workers, police or any other professionals making decisions about their lives.