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Powers of Attorney

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 202573, tabled on 26 June 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to increase levels of protection for elderly and vulnerable people who fall victim to abuse of power of attorney.

Answered on

2 July 2014

The Government is committed to protecting elderly and vulnerable people, and to ensuring that anyone responsible for abuse is dealt with appropriately.

The Public Guardian has power to investigate cases where concerns are raised about the actions of a person acting under a power of attorney, and to apply to the Court to revoke the power of attorney where necessary to prevent abuse. The Public Guardian will refer cases to health and care authorities, who can act under statutory safeguarding powers to protect an individual who may be at risk, and to the police if he suspects a criminal offence has been committed.

We are currently considering whether the Public Guardian needs additional powers to strengthen his role in safeguarding elderly and vulnerable people, including the power to continue an investigation after a power of attorney or court order has been revoked or disclaimed. This would require changes to primary legislation.

Data on prosecutions for fraud, or for ill-treatment and neglect under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, do not specify whether the allegation relates to a person acting under a power of attorney. The Government's response to the House of Lords Select Committee's report on the Mental Capacity Act includes a commitment to review the use of the criminal offence under s44 of the Act.