AEA offers response to government consultation

AEA offers response to government consultation

Action on Elder Abuse has responded to the government consultation ‘Reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect’, because it also raised questions about the potential for mandatory reporting of adult abuse. This aspect was not publicly highlighted, which must call into question the validity of such a consultation approach.

We believe that health practitioners, care providers and staff, clergy members and employees of local authorities, statutory bodies, financial institutions and police should be required by law to report known or suspected cases of abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults to the relevant local authority safeguarding or adult protection teams.

Additionally, we believe that there should be protection under the law for all those who report suspected cases of abuse and neglect, provided that the report is not made with malicious intent.

There is a balance to be struck between what might be considered by some to be ‘unnecessary state intrusion’ and the right of the child or vulnerable adult to not be subjected to abuse or neglect. We would argue that the wellbeing of the child or vulnerable adult is of paramount importance. There is a public expectation that citizens should have the full protection of the State when they are at risk of crime – and abuse and neglect are often crimes. Is it intrusive to inquire whether or not a child or frail adult is being physically assaulted, starved or intimidated? What are the accepted parameters of ‘family life’ that allow an abuser to argue a ‘right’ to abuse without fear of question or challenge? Given the psychology of abuse, in which a victim is dependent and often powerless to act (as recognised by the new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour – Serious Crimes Act 2015) how can it be argued that a reporting requirement placed on defined roles is ‘unnecessary State intrusion’ when such engagement is being increasingly recognised as required in domestic abuse situations?

For our full response to this and other questions from the consultation, please download our full submission here.

 

 

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