The case of Freda Jobson
The failure of the Criminal Justice System, Freda Jobson – a case in point:
84 year old Freda Jobson does not have capacity and was bed bound with pressure sores. She was ill treated by three carers while resident at Keldgate Manor residential home in Beverley. A hidden camera, placed there by Mrs Jobson’s family who had concerns about their mother, captured the abuse.
The camera footage showed carers who mimicked the 84-year-old great-grandmother’s groaning as they laughed and swore. They also asked her if she was a witch and whether she had ever practiced black magic. One ‘carer’ removed a bandage used to cover a bedsore on the old woman’s elbow and wrapped it around the woman’s head while laughing at her. The carers in question admitted their actions.
Despite the fact that the actions of these abusers constituted a crime under section 44 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the police decided to issue a caution rather than pursue a prosecution. The family said that a decision had been taken to not press charges because the abusers had shown remorse, had admitted to their actions and had no criminal record. This was a decision that was supported by the local Adult Safeguarding Board.
Action on Elder Abuse made representations to the Chief Constable, the Chair of the Adult Safeguarding Board, and the Attorney General, on behalf of the family who were obviously not happy with this decision.
After several months and repeated representations by AEA the police reversed their decision and placed the case with the Crown Prosecution Service, who took some months and then decided to take the case to the High Court.
Twelve months after AEA first raised the case, in April 2016, the carers were found guilty, received suspended sentences and were required to pay compensation.
It should not have required the intervention of a charity to ensure access to the Criminal Justice System for an 84-year-old woman.
Some responses from the agencies concerned:
Adult Safeguarding Board:
I felt that as chair (of the Adult Safeguarding Board) the outcome was acceptable to the Board, it was in-line with the Board’s aims in that it protected Mrs Jobson and also prevented any likelihood of it happening again as the workers will not be allowed to work in any caring role and indeed would have a criminal record due to the cautions. (Initial response to AEA).
When I enquired (chair of the Board –ed) the police gave me their rationale for their decision to caution rather than prosecute. It is not inevitable that an offence of abuse or neglect will automatically result in a prosecution, it is subject to the circumstances surrounding it and in pure safeguarding terms this overall outcome was proportionate and achieved as much as a court action would have done to protect adults at risk of harm. Therefore I did not feel it necessary to request that the police reverse their decision. (After AEA pursued its concerns).
I can tell you (chair of the Board –ed) that the police have decided to review their decision to caution rather than prosecute and they will contact the family to tell them about this. I fully support the police in reviewing their decision. (At the conclusion of AEA representations).
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
It is not within our remit to insist that police refer this case to the CPS. As these matters fall within the remit of the Police and Crime Commissioner (they do not – Ed) you should direct your concerns to him. (When AEA contacted first).
What had AEA told them?
- The evidential test has been met with regard to these crimes. There is clear video evidence of what had occurred, and the perpetrators have admitted their guilt.
- The CPS policy states public interest factors include the defendant being in a position of authority or trust, and the Code for Crown Prosecutors states that, with wilful neglect or ill-treatment cases, the public interest will nearly always demand that a prosecution occurs, due to the position of trust that the suspect held in relation to the victim, as well as the extreme vulnerability of the victim.
Consequently, in a case that involves admission by the perpetrators and video evidence that satisfies the evidence test, and the vulnerability of the victim and position of trust of the abusers, the pubic interest test has also been met.
So, why a police caution.
And how many others out there have been equally wrong?