Bid to protect vulnerable individuals
Published on 03 March 2014 02:00 PM
An alliance of campaigners and leading charities has written to David Cameron demanding tougher laws to protect vulnerable individuals.
It comes as figures produced by independent researchers at the House of Commons suggest at least 241,700 older people were suffering physical, psychological, financial or sexual abuse in their own homes at the time of the last census in 2011, the Telegraph reports.
According to an upper estimate, however, the true figure could be as high as 353,300.
There is a clear gap in the law
The letter to the Prime Minister calls for a new legal power for the police and social workers to enter the homes of vulnerable older people in cases where a carer is blocking access and preventing the person exercising their free will.
More than 500 individuals, charities, and campaign groups have signed the paper, including the former Coalition care minister Paul Burstow, the Law Society, Age UK, and actor and television presenter Sir Tony Robinson.
'There is a clear gap in the law protecting frail and vulnerable people,' said Mr Burstow.
'My proposal would give the court a power in limited circumstances to enable access so that they can be protected. I hope the Prime Minister will listen to the powerful case being made by so many charities and experts in this field.'
2.6% of over-65s were suffering some form of mistreatment
An earlier study by the Department of Health found that 2.6% of over-65s were suffering some form of mistreatment in their own homes. This included physical or sexual abuse and psychological abuse, as well as neglect and financial exploitation.
There are also concerns that thousands of frail older people, many of whom are suffering from dementia, are being swindled out of their money or subjected to abuse by people who should be caring for them.
To tackle the problem, Mr Burstow has tabled an amendment to the Care Bill ahead of next week's debate.
He wants courts to be given the power to authorise a police constable and a social worker to enter a house when there is evidence suggesting a vulnerable adult is suffering abuse or neglect and investigations are being blocked by a third party.
Police can currently only intervene if there is an immediate threat to life and limb.
Copyright Press Association 2014