Bridget Penhale (School of Health Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Margaret Flynn (Yygubor, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 12 June 2017



Penhale, B. and Flynn, M. (2017), "Editorial", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 101-104. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAP-04-2017-0019



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

Welcome to this issue of the Journal of Adult Protection. As ever, there are a number of recent news items relating to safeguarding issues that have appeared in the past few months that readers may have missed, or which may be worthy of further consideration. A selection of these items appears below.

During February, the UK human rights lawyer Phil Shiner was struck off for 12 charges of proved misconduct by the solicitors’ disciplinary tribunal[1]. Having uncovered shocking evidence of brutality and unlawful killing by British soldiers during the Iraq war, including that of Baha Mousa, this is a sad outcome. Without the work of the now defunct law firm, Public Interest Lawyers, service officers who were aware of abuses would have remained silent. A further outcome currently sought by the Conservative government would enable the British military to opt out of the European Convention on Human Rights in future conflicts[2].

More abuse allegations, this time centring on Christian youth camps, came to light during February[3]. John Smyth subjected young men to horrific beatings during the late 1970s and early 1980s. John Smyth was not reported to the police at the time and he has escaped prosecution as he immigrated to Zimbabwe. However, once there, he was the subject of fresh allegations of physical abuse[4]. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has issued an unreserved apology.

Also during February, in Australia the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse revealed the scale of Catholic child abuse, including disclosures of historical abuse. It was reported that at least one in 14 of Australia’s Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing over 4,000 children during the six decades since 1950[5]. Their victims were largely either ignored or punished.

Durham police’s Operation Seabrook began during 2013. This operation/enquiry hinges on the former inmates of Medomsley detention centre[6]. Although victims complained to the police about abuse, no action was taken. Neville Husband was imprisoned for eight years during 2003 for committing sex attacks on young inmates. His sentence was increased to ten years when other victims disclosed attacks. Although he and accomplice Leslie Johnson have since died, the police are seeking to establish whether others associated with the abuses may be brought to justice in future[7].

March was an especially hard month for the UK. Kevin Hyland, the UK’s anti-slavery commissioner criticised police forces for failing to tackle slave trafficking in relation to work on cannabis farms[8]. There has not yet been a successful prosecution irrespective of the hundreds of young people trafficked from Vietnam every year.

A patchwork quilt with 598 squares was displayed in Westminster Hall to mark International Women’s Day. Each square represented a woman killed by a partner or an ex-partner between 2009 and 2015[9].

A lone driver deliberately mounted the Westminster Bridge pavement, struck and injured around 50 pedestrians, killing five of them and then crashed into the railings around the parliament building and stabbed and killed policeman Keith Palmer[10]. Lone attacker Khalid Masood’s mayhem was as challenging as all other lone attackers are to a country’s domestic security, as has been seen elsewhere. Yet, the responses of solidarity and gratitude for the actions of the security forces, politicians and the public were unlikely to have been Masood’s purpose. As the victims are mourned, the futility of such arbitrary killings is painfully clear.

Hadley Freeman has written about the links between terrorism and domestic violence[11]. Citing six cases, she challenges commentators who seek to attribute murderous motives to immigration and/or religion:

  1. Khalid Masood’s former wife fled her husband in terror after just three months of marriage;

  2. Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who killed more than 80 people driving a truck into a crowd on Bastille Day in Nice last year, had a long history of domestic violence;

  3. Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in a Florida nightclub during 2016, had a history of domestic violence;

  4. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers (during 2013) had previously been arrested for domestic assault;

  5. Robert Lewis Dear, an Evangelical Christian who killed three people in a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado during 2015, had a history of violence against women and had previously been arrested for rape; and

  6. Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine people in Charleston during 2014, is believed to have been raised in a family where “gendered control was normalised” since his step mother accused his father of abusing her.

Everytown for Gun Safety[12] is also cited. This is a gun control group which has analysed FBI data on mass shootings in the USA between 2009 and 2015. It found that 16 per cent of attackers had previously been charged with domestic violence.

We await further information concerning the driver of the Stockholm truck, which ploughed into shoppers on 7 April.

It is Northern Ireland’s turn to provide an example of sustained cruelty against a vulnerable adult. Keith and Caroline Baker have been imprisoned for sexually abusing a disabled woman over an eight year period – during which time she was locked in a bare room which she could not leave since the door handle had been removed from the door. The couple’s sexual assaults were filmed. As Judge Patrick Lynch QC noted: “It is not easy to understand how these individuals have so lost their moral compass that they could subject an individual who clearly exhibited serious mental defects to mistreatment, in sexual terms depriving her of any dignity and even the most basic of living standards[13]”.

The practice of restraint continues to rear its ugly head. At the beginning of March Channel 4’s Dispatches: “Under lock and key” uncovered restraint and seclusion practices at St Andrews, Northampton – one of the largest and wealthiest health care charities in Britain[14]. In a six-month period there were 600 incidents of prone restraint in the child and adolescent wards of the private hospital. Although the regulator states that this institution “requires improvement”, it is astonishing that it continues to flourish in the wake of the scandal that was Winterbourne View Hospital: a 15-year old patient was segregated in a room with little natural light for 22 months; four died within a seven month period, all of whom were prescribed Clozapine; restraint was less a “last resort” than a means to administer injections; parents were not allowed to see the “wards” where their children were placed; and constipation – a side effect of Clozapine – resulted in the death of Bill Johnson. The charity paid his parents £30 k.

Thomas Orchard, a man who had paranoid schizophrenia, died in police custody after a webbing belt was placed over his head[15]. Thomas suffered a cardiac arrest and brain damage. The defence of the officers who restrained him was that they believed they were dealing with an aggressive man and that the force they used was lawful and proportionate in order to control and resolve the situation. Three Devon and Cornwall police officers have been cleared of manslaughter.

Children and young people are not spared the dangerous practice of restraint according to a 5 Live investigation[16]. Those attending special schools are at particular risk of being restrained. During the last three years in England, Scotland and Wales, there have been 13,000 physical restraints and 731 injuries recorded. We wonder how many more injuries and tragic incidents will occur before there is a shift in the terms of the debate and before additional support is galvanised for banning prone restraint?

This issue of the journal contains a number of papers about different aspects of adult safeguarding. Our first paper, by Caroline Hughes and colleagues, of Glyndwr University in Wales considers issues relating to homeless people and their exclusion from mainstream society. Although there has been increased awareness of the range of issues that homeless people experience, societal perceptions that homelessness results from individual weakness and failings still endure. This paper reports on a research study that tries to contest such notions through giving voice to individuals from this marginalised group and exploring the mechanisms through which they may be protected. In the study, semi-structured interviews were held with 23 homeless people who had accessed a range of homelessness services in the study area.

Findings suggest that homeless people are largely deprived of the private sphere, which arguably renders them in most need of public space, and that they often find themselves most subject to inspection, surveillance and exclusion in public spaces. Homelessness appears to be a function of ongoing geographical marginalisation and social alienation for people, and specific spaces for homeless people to occupy during the day still need further development since they may act to disrupt processes associated with homelessness.

The following paper by Martin Campbell from St Andrews University provides an analysis of the inspection and regulation of care for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems in Scotland, over two distinct time periods, one historical and the other contemporary. Through a comparison of commonalities, differences and challenges between these two periods, the paper explores what might be learned about the development of policy and practice in inspection and regulation of care and potential future directions.

From the analysis that was undertaken, some of the factors identified in the initial period appear to recur as challenges to effective practice in the inspection and regulation of care today. And although the paper is based on the Scottish context there are some useful points of comparison (and food for thought) to be made in relation to systems of regulation and inspection in other settings and contexts.

The third paper in this issue is by Steve Moore of the University of Birmingham and is a further paper considering care settings, based on the work that Steve undertook for his doctoral studies. The paper presents some of the findings from the mixed methods research study that was carried out, and focusses on the prevention of abuse of older people in private sector care homes. The specific emphasis of this paper is the potential role of staff personal value frameworks in relation to strategies for prevention of abuse. From the semi-structured interviews that were held with 36 care home personnel (including proprietors and care managers as well as care staff), a considerable number of the participants identified the personal value frameworks of care staff as an important possible factor in abuse prevention. The data also suggests that the individual value frameworks and evaluations of staff towards those that they care for is a significant causal factor in the occurrence of abuse. This provides useful food for thought for those are involved in developing strategies of prevention and intervention in abusive situations.

The following paper is by Kerstin Kristensen of KvinnofridsAkademin in Gothenburg (Sweden) and concerns a study that is in progress relating to the development of a survey tool on violence that could be used by individuals with intellectual disabilities. The paper details the research process that was carried out so that the questions and the methods used were adapted to the participant’s skills and needs. Questions written in “difficult Swedish” were translated and transcribed into simple language and the target group was tested to see if words describing violent acts were understood. After some adjustments, another small group tested the method, which was a web-based Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interview (ACASI). After individuals had completed the survey, they were interviewed about the experience of participation. Initial results showed that it is possible for people with intellectual disabilities to independently answer population-based questionnaires, even about sensitive issues. This was the case when the researcher offered use of a web-based ACASI, which can be used on accessible computers and tablets and which can include easy read questions and alternative formats such as questions with both text and images or the chance to listen to the question being read. Although detailed, the paper contains information for consideration about the involvement of service users in research studies, but may also be of interest to readers who are involved in such areas as service evaluation.

Our final paper of this issue is by Joanna Kidd and Jill Manthorpe from King’s College, London and discusses the interface relating to Adult Safeguarding and Modern Slavery. As readers will be aware, inclusion of modern slavery as a form of abuse in the Care Act 2014 means that the issue of modern slavery is now part of the remit of adult safeguarding in England. This paper discusses the background to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and its provisions and also presents findings from a policy analysis which was undertaken in 2016, with a focus on research and documentary evidence concerning the interface between modern slavery and adult safeguarding and associated policy contexts. Although there is relatively little material so far focussing on adult safeguarding and modern slavery, the inclusion of this area within safeguarding practice means that practitioner responses, organisational collaboration and revisions to systems of data collection and analysis are likely to be needed and developed in future. The information provided in the paper may assist those in adult safeguarding communities to develop links and information resources for this new area of their work.

This year sees the continuation of the ESRC Seminar series on safeguarding, mentioned in previous issues. Following a successful seminar held in February, further seminars are planned for September and December this year. Further details can be obtained from the website for SALLY: “Safeguarding Adults and Legal Literacy”, which is hosted at https://safeguardingadults.wordpress.com or via contact with Prof Alison Brammer of Keele University, who is the Co-ordinator for the series. The planned Special Issue of the journal, based on papers from one of the seminars from last year on safeguarding across the four nations of the UK is making good progress and will appear later this year.

As editors of the journal we are always interested in hearing from potential contributors and to discuss ideas for contributions. Do make contact with one of us if this is the case and we would be pleased to provide advice on this. Our contact details appear on the inside cover of the journal or are available on the journal website. We hope that this issue will provide further ideas for consideration related to the world of safeguarding and will be of interest to readers.



www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38841544 (accessed 2 April 2017).


www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/ (accessed 3 April 2017).


www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39530915 (accessed 9 April 2017).

Related articles