Plans to strengthen the protection of vulnerable adults by making it a legal requirement for all local authorities to have a Safeguarding Adults Board were today announced by Care Services Minister Paul Burstow.
Safeguarding Adults Boards provide vital leadership to those involved in adult safeguarding work across the full range of safeguarding issues. These range from serious incidents in hospitals and institutional abuse in care settings to financial abuse and “scams”, bullying and victimisation.
Speaking at the Capita Conference on Adult Safeguarding, Mr Burstow will also outline the new Government guiding principles on safeguarding which seek to increase the protection for those most at risk in society.
The principles outline the Government’s objective to prevent and reduce the risk of harm to vulnerable people and set out the key issues, which must inform local arrangements including:
Empowerment – supporting people to make decisions and have a say in their care;
Protection – support and representation for those in greatest need;
Prevention – it is better to take action before harm occurs;
Proportionality – safeguarding must be built on proportionality and a consideration of people’s human rights;
Partnership – local solutions through services working with their communities; and
Accountability – safeguarding practice and arrangements should be accountable and transparent.
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said:
"I am determined that we strengthen the law to protect the most vulnerable people in our society.
“By making Safeguarding Adults Boards mandatory, we aim to make them more effective and ensure those at risk of harm or exploitation will be safer.
“Today, on behalf of the Government, I have set out six key principles which must underpin safeguarding arrangements. I want to see local agencies use these as a basis to develop and test their own actions to ensure that vulnerable people receive the protection they need regardless of where they live."
Safeguarding Adults Boards are made up of the local social services authority, the police, the NHS and working with all other groups involved in protecting at risk adults. They also include members of the local community, giving the public a voice and enabling them to hold local organisations to account for what they are doing on safeguarding.
The Boards already exist in each local authority but are currently not mandatory and their effectiveness is variable. By making Boards mandatory, the Government is sending a strong signal about their importance and the need to work in partnership with collective accountability to local communities.
The Law Commission’s report to the Government on reforming social care law, published on May 11, recommended placing Safeguarding Adult Boards on a statutory footing.