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The Care Act 2014: a new legal framework for safeguarding adults in civil society

Many of us may be able to remember the general air of excitement that surrounded the writing and publishing of “No Secrets” (Department of Health, 2000) and “In Safe Hands”(Welsh Assembly Government, 2000), although we might wish we were young enough not to! At the time, the documents generated mixed feelings amongst service users/customers and carers as well as professionals/practitioners. To some they were a major step forward on the road to raise the status of “vulnerable adult protection” (as it was then known) closer to that already enjoyed by child protection and domestic violence to others it was a missed opportunity to go even further along that road and to a small number it was a step too far when the perception was that existing legislation provided sufficient protection and any increased powers amounted to state intrusion into the private lives of adults.The constitutional situation across the four countries of the UK meant that England and Wales had slightly different structures put in place to respond to situations of abuse and neglect, while Scotland and Northern Ireland were responsible for their own processes and took different approaches.Even within England and Wales, “No Secrets” and “In Safe Hands” were issued as guidance to Local Authorities under existing legislation and, as such, did not place any requirements on any other agencies or organisations to cooperate with the Local Authority. In fact, it could be argued that Local Authorities did not have to act in accordance with guidance if they could see good reason why not. Indicative of the anomalous position of the guidance is the situation in England regarding the requirement of Local Authorities to produce multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults – it is interesting to note how they had to produce multi-agency policies and procedures, but no other agency was required to work with them to do so!

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Emerald publishing Ltd
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The Journal of Adult Protection
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