To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if his Department will take steps to expand the investigatory powers of the Office of the Public Guardian to better protect elderly and vulnerable people in cases in which power of attorney is abused; and if he will make a statement.
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and vulnerable people, including the power to continue an investigation after a power of attorney or court order has been revoked or disclaimed.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.