Care Bill [Lords]

Written evidence submitted by Graham Carey (CB 22)

1. This is a personal submission. I am a retired police superintendent and have been the independent chair of a unitary authority’s multi-agency adult safeguarding board for 5 years. This submission concerns only adult safeguarding and argues for including one further duty on Safeguarding Boards within Schedule 2. That is requirement to produce annually a strategic assessment. I want to suggest that introducing this requirement as a precursor to producing a strategy will provide a catalyst for better partner engagement in the whole process and may lead to the mainstreaming of that proportion of abuse which is crime.

2. There is precedent. Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (S6) multi-agency Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (now Community Safety Partnerships) also have a duty to publish a Strategy but before doing so they have a duty to produce, consult upon locally and publish a strategic assessment on which to base that strategy.

"Before formulating a strategy, the responsible authorities shall carry out, taking due account of the knowledge and experience of persons in the area, a review of the levels and patterns of crime and disorder in the area.... and prepare an analysis of the results of that review and...publish in the area a report of that analysis; and obtain the views on that report of persons or bodies in the area whether by holding public meetings or otherwise".

3. Health’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessments do not, generally, concern themselves with adult safeguarding nor, again generally, do CSP strategic assessments.

4. This amendment would bring changes beyond producing a more analytic, information based and intelligence led strategy than may otherwise be the case. It makes it more likely that the end result will be a partnership strategy on which local communities have been consulted, rather than an adult social care strategy. It will facilitate developing deliverable strategies for prevention, in which police and community safety partnerships have decades of experience. It will push partners to better engage in information sharing at the strategic level which may influence the significant problem of failing to share information at the operational level.

5. Last, but perhaps of most significance, it would improve police engagement with adult safeguarding which, broadly speaking and with some exceptions, has been patchy. In part this is because they have never had to engage and also because social care may not always view police involvement as appropriate or desirable other than in the most serious cases. Considering that over half of adult safeguarding referrals in England concern physical abuse (assaults), financial abuse (theft or deceptions) and sexual abuse, this is a lot of recordable crime that is not being recorded.

6. The abuse of vulnerable adult data set (AVA) published by NHS Information Centre for Health and Social care provided outcomes for approximately 86,000 completed adult safeguarding referrals 2011/12. There were 18 permissible outcomes for local authorities to record, two of which were police action and criminal prosecution/formal caution. (Police action is not defined). Of the 86,000 completed referrals, police action is shown in 6,045 cases (7%) and criminal prosecution/formal caution in just 1%. The data for 2012/13 is the same. Of approximately 100,000 completed referrals police action was recorded as one of the outcomes in just 5,185 cases and criminal prosecution/formal caution in 1,120 cases. While some "minor" assaults may well fall below the threshold for recording as crime, it is hard to see how financial and sexual abuse is not recordable crime.

7. I am unclear when and why we began to refer to crime against a certain class of victim as abuse rather than call it what it is: assault, rape, theft or deception. It creates a tier of victims who receive a different level of service. It is certainly a barrier to bringing this into the mainstream and it contributes to the accepted deficit of data about crimes against vulnerable and at risks adults.

8. The Law Commission suggest that adult safeguarding interventions should be primarily about resolution rather than prosecution. For most cases the person at the centre of the investigation, the "victim", ought have the major say in whether or not a police investigation and/or prosecution is desirable or appropriate. In many cases prosecution may well not be desirable, appropriate or in the best interests of the "victim".

9. For many front line police officers formally reporting a crime is the first step in a process which leads to investigation and prosecution. There have been cases reported where officers have been reluctant to formally record a crime against vulnerable or at risk adults because the victim is deemed from the outset to be an "unreliable witness". This is not the view of senior police officers, nor is it the position of the Crown Prosecution Service, but it does happen.

10. Home Office is quite clear on the requirement on police to record crime in these circumstances.

11. "The requirements on the police to record crime are as set out in the National Crime Recording Standards (NCRS) and the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR) for recorded crime. They both take a victim focussed approach and the general rules apply. The Home Office has made clear that the fact a victim may not wish to support a later prosecution is not a reason why a crime should not be recorded". The HOCR General Rules is accessible via the link HOCR General Rules. Section A, Whether & When to Record (2 of 7) states that:

12. Referrals made by other organisations to the police in cases involving crimes committed against vulnerable persons should be recorded by the police, regardless of any decision to resolve it by the other organisation. Where as a result of Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) procedures, police become aware of an allegation of a previously unrecorded notifiable offence they must deal with the recording of such crime in accordance with NCRS. That is applying the third party reporting criteria, or where they are not acting for or on behalf of the victim, seeking victim confirmation. The level of any subsequent investigation remains a matter for the relevant Chief Officer of the force concerned.

"Whilst this section makes specific reference to existing MARAC processes, the same principles should apply to referrals by other partnership working arrangements". November 2013.

13. Not all abuse is crime, clearly much is not, but that which is crime should be formally recorded as such. It is neither feasible nor desirable to compel social care or individuals to report crime to police but I do believe that a significant increase in reporting would be a consequence of a requirement to produce data for a strategic assessment.

14. A reasonable argument against this suggestion is that it may it may discourage the reporting of abuse. This is the same argument that is made for domestic violence which is not something that we now think the police should not formally record.

January 2014

Prepared 22nd January 2014