Prosecutions double for offences under the Mental Capacity Act 2005

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Figures show that the number of care workers or carers charged with offences under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 reached an all-time high in 2013-14 and the number of prosecutions of care staff and family carers for abuse or neglect have more than doubled.

In 2013-14, 349 charges were made and reached a first magistrates’ court hearing in England and Wales in relation to the offences of carer ill-treatment or wilful neglect under section 44 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA). This was up from 168 in 2012-13.

This the highest number since the MCA’s introduction. The offence applies to people who care for a person who lacks capacity and covers both paid staff and informal carers.

In addition, six charges were made against people given lasting power of attorney to manage affairs of people who lack capacity to do so, up from one in 2012-13. There were 47 prosecutions in relation to ill-treatment or neglect under section 127 of the Mental Health Act 1983, down from 57 in 2012-13.

Action on Elder Abuse chief executive Gary FitzGerald suggested the hike in prosecutions under section 44 of the MCA may be the result of heightened awareness, triggered by the proposals for the new offences but he warned: “This data does not reflect successful prosecutions, and we know that the court system has been notoriously poor at convicting, and then adequately sentencing, perpetrators. There have been too many instances of suspended sentences, or community service, for quite appalling crimes.”

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