Former care services minister Paul Burstow, says care home providers in England where abuse is carried out should face unlimited fines and criminal sanctions.
Mr Burstow says tougher laws are needed to ensure care providers are held criminally accountable for abuse and neglect in their homes. In cases such as at Winterbourne View, he says firms must be responsible for abuse “taking place on their watch“.
The MP is to outline proposed legislation in the Commons on Wednesday which he says would see justice done for future victims of abuse and their families. Mr Burstow said he did not want to see a repeat of the Winterbourne View care scandal that led to the conviction of six people for their role in abuse and neglect at the private hospital near Bristol, but for which he claimed there had been “no corporate accountability“.
His proposals include:
- Amending existing legislation to make a corporate body guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed by its board or senior management neglects or is a substantial element in the existence and/or possibility of abuse or neglect
- Offences should be punishable by unlimited fines, remedial orders and publicity orders
- Those with relevant information about suspected abuse or neglect must supply information to Adult Safeguarding Boards if requested to do so.
The MP said “it is not good enough for the thugs who carry out this kind of abuse to receive a criminal conviction, when the companies in charge have no criminal corporate accountability whatsoever. It is about time those who take the fees, and employ and manage the staff in care homes are held to account for abuse and neglect that takes place on their watch“.
Gary Fitzgerald, chief Executive of Action on Elder Abuse, which is supporting Paul Burstow’s plans said “while it is right that abusing care workers should feel the full impact of the courts and sentencing, it is equally important that those who employ and direct those workers should also face justice. The public expect no less“.
Norman Lamb, who succeeded Mr Burstow as care minister in September, has indicated that the government is prepared to look at criminal sanctions as one of a number of options.