The DH is consulting on a new safeguarding power for local authorities. The DH’s approach to safeguarding interventions is based upon the Law Commission’s recommendation that new legislation “should not include any new or emergency powers unless Government decides that such powers are needed.“

The consultation runs from 11 July to 12 October 2012. The draft Care and Support Bill includes a proposed duty on local authorities to make enquiries when there is a safeguarding concern. The consultation seeks views as to whether or not there should he a new power to support this duty. This could be in the form of a power of entry. The proposal on which they are consulting applies where a local authority has reasonable cause for concern that a person with capacity is experiencing abuse or neglect, and someone else in the property is preventing the local authority from speaking with that person. The aim being to empower local authorities to effectively carry out their new duty of enquiry and give them a cause of action if someone prevents them from doing so. The consultation therefore touches on complex issues at the interface between issues of protection and civil liberties.

The consultation asks four questions:

  • Do you agree that there is a gap in the proposed legislative framework for people with mental capacity, which this power would address?
  • What are your views on the proposals that there should be a new power of entry, enabling the local authority to speak to someone with mental capacity who they think could be at risk of abuse or neglect, if a third party prevents them from doing so? 
  • (for care and support professionals working in adult safeguarding) How many times in the last 12 months, have you been aware of a situation, where, had this power existed, it would have been appropriate to use it? What were the circumstances?
  • What safeguards would we need to ensure local authorities use such a power effectively and appropriately?