Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: The Journal of Adult Protection, Volume 13, Issue 5
Fantastic news for the elderly citizens of Yorkshire and Humber, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Nottinghamshire – in July 2011, five members of the Price family of Brigg, North Lincolnshire were imprisoned for nearly 25 years. Thanks to an 18-month investigation by the North Yorkshire Trading Standards and Planning Services, this family’s gardening and roofing service, money laundering and theft have been brought to a decisive halt. Although they were known to have preyed on “at least” 81 victims, the prosecution accepted that the actual number of victims may never be known. Accordingly, the scale of losses is incalculable. Now, the hundreds of thousands of pounds this family made is to be the focus of Proceeds of Crime legislation attention.
Are the days of media moguls over? The UK’s very own aspiring Watergate continues to reveal its chain reactions. Indifference to who celebrities sleep with, which MP or Royal had their phone hacked gave way to tidal revulsion that, for the sake of flogging a newspaper, the family of a murdered schoolgirl were given false hope that she might still be alive. Her messages were deleted to make room for new ones which the News of the World could share with its readers. The subsequent twists and turns have seen the felling of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and an Assistant Commissioner responsible for counter terrorism, so intertwined was the Metropolitan Police with News International. Onto politicians’ media links and the cosiness and unwise relationships of England’s politicians as they tripped in and out of each other’s homes and caved into the demands of headline writers is less than edifying. It will be recalled that Rupert and James Murdoch were within days of securing television dominance in the UK.
The Press Complaints Commission is a mediation service not a regulator. Its consistent refrain was that it could intervene only after a complaint had been made eroded its credibility. It did not have powers to monitor and enforce standards, investigate misconduct, call witnesses and impose penalties – but it should not be forgotten that undercover journalists can be more effective than the police in identifying criminal activities. Are there parallels for service regulation? Arguably yes. What’s the point of self-regulation? Can services be trusted to regulate themselves? Recent events indicate that they cannot. Successful regulators pay serious attention to the constituency they serve – the patients and the residents. However, they have to do as they are told. Isn’t there a case for a regulator funded by, but not answerable to, government? A regulator requires powers and sanctions, a licensing system and fines which hurt – taken from a “deposit” which would be forfeited by proprietors. Criminality requires the attention of the police.
The digital revolution ploughs on with not just newspapers and television merging online… Pity the detectives who cannot access encrypted computer hard-drives. The modest sentences given to members of PIE, the Paedophile Information Exchange for specimen charges of possessing and distributing indecent images, having prohibited drawings of children being raped and failing to disclose the password are disappointing.
Investigative journalism uses nefarious methods – secret filming, impersonation. Does it serve the public good? Whilst the answer to this question may not yet be totally clear, we have some further news about unfolding events subsequent to the BBC filming (and screening) of abuse and neglect of adults with learning disabilities in Winterbourne View, a private hospital, which were raised in the editorial of issue 13.3. One outcome of the programme was that 86 leading individuals and organisations with an interest in the lives of people with learning disabilities, wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron requesting a programme of action. The letter detailed 15 actions considered necessary to prevent such abuse recurring and to assist in making certain that people with learning disabilities are assisted to live their lives as equal citizens in our communities (the full letter can be accessed at: www.thecbf.org.uk/campaigns/latestnews.htm). Over the next few months, we await the findings of the investigations, including a SCR concerning the events at Winterbourne View.
In addition to the abuse and neglect exposed by the BBC, the situation that has come to light relating to Southern Cross (and children’s care provider Sedgemoor) confirms that Human Rights legislation does not protect either the patients of private hospitals or the residents of care home from owners and shareholders who regard their hospitals and homes solely as income streams. These events should make the novice and experienced private providers hesitate to amend their business plans at the behest of their shareholders. We are interested in learning more about the capacity of the service models advanced by “the market” to prevent institutional abuse.
This issue contains papers covering a range of different topics within the field of adult safeguarding, ranging from a study of referrals, to NHS involvement in the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), training and legal perspectives. The opening interesting paper by Paul Cambridge, Jim Mansell, Julie Beadle-Brown, Alisoun Milne and Beckie Whelton reports findings from a study of adult protection referrals in two local authorities in England over a seven-year period (1998-2005, when the term adult protection was still used routinely). The referrals were analysed to ascertain whether there were any specific patterns associated with risk factors for service user groups. A combination of service-user data with information from the local authorities and from the Care Quality Commission was examined and analysed. In this way, it was possible to look at potential associations between processes and outcomes within adult protection. Although the study covered two authorities, the paper considers the wider implications of the findings in terms of national as well as local levels at which responses to adult protection alerts and referrals occur.
The second paper, by Lynne Phair and Jill Manthorpe, reports findings from an audit undertaken in healthcare settings in order to examine the relationship of the UK vetting and barring scheme to the NHS. The audit was intended to support the implementation of the ISA by NHS Trusts as the scheme included healthcare settings, which had not previously been part of the predecessor protection of vulnerable adults list scheme. The main aim of the audit was to gain understanding about the potential number of referrals from healthcare settings to the vetting and barring scheme run by the ISA in England and Wales, as early findings following the introduction of the ISA suggested that some NHS employers did not appear to be sufficiently familiar with the new scheme and the requirement to consider making referrals to the ISA, when potentially relevant. The audit was devised to establish the number of possible referrals to the ISA from the NHS and to conduct an in-depth exploration of two NHS Trusts’ decision making in this area. The findings from the audit are helpfully considered in relation to the wider NHS and the workings of the ISA.
The third paper by Lindsey Pike, Tony Gilbert, Corinne Leverton, Roger Indge and Deirdre Ford examines the issue of adult safeguarding training in a single local authority. The study reported in the paper was undertaken following the recommendation in a Serious Case Review in that authority to establish the extent of knowledge about adult safeguarding by staff working in that sector. A fundamental element of this enquiry was to consider the role of staff training, as although training provision existed it was evident that abuse continued to happen. A survey of relevant staff was undertaken in order to explore the factors that contributed to the success (or otherwise) of the training that was provided across the authority. The results of this interesting study identified a range of issues for managers and training professionals, including the finding that professionals performed significantly better than managers on questions to determine their knowledge base and additionally that training contributed to around a 20 per cent increase in knowledge about safeguarding across the staff group as a whole. The implications of the findings for other local authorities are carefully drawn out and explored and recommendations made about further work to be undertaken, particularly in relation to training transfer within adult safeguarding.
The final paper in this issue has been submitted by the Law Commission and provides a timely and valuable consideration of the Commission’s recommendations on the reform of adult social care law, specifically as they relate to adult safeguarding. The paper, therefore, outlines the final recommendations made for the improvement of the legal framework concerning adult safeguarding. This includes beneficial recapping of the results of the consultation exercise that was held and how these informed the recommendations that the Law Commission made in their report to government, which was published earlier this year in May. The paper is clearly and persuasively argued and sets out the approach suggested by the Commission for reform in this area. It also reminds us that the more general recommendations contained in the report about such aspects as statutory principles, community care assessments, the eligibility framework, carers rights and rights to care and support plans, are also highly relevant to safeguarding. This is because the broader concept of safeguarding is not only related to adult protection but is also connected with the more wide-ranging approach that should be taken within adult social care concerning both assessment and service provision. The paper provides substantial food for thought and potentially a useful basis from which to move forward, depending, as always, on the final decisions taken by government about implementation the report and recommendations.
As ever, if there are ideas that any of you have in relation to potential papers for the journal or other items concerning the journal, please do send these to us. Meanwhile we hope that you enjoy reading this issue of the journal.
Bridget Penhale, Margaret Flynn