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Commissioner renews appeal for law to protect older people from abuse

09 September, 2015

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Claire Keatinge, has renewed her call to the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to commit to introducing legislation that would better protect older people in Northern Ireland from abuse.

The Commissioner's renewed call for a single Adult Safeguarding Bill comes following the publication of a report from the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland, which emphasises that collaborative working between the criminal justice system and Health and Social Services is key to safeguarding adults from harm.

The Commissioner said:

"Abuse of older people happens across our society wherever they may live, and causes fear, anxiety and distress for those at risk and those who have experienced it.

"The incidence of allegations of abuse against older people is growing in Northern Ireland, with an increase of 90% in the number of allegations of abuse recorded over the past four years. Many people will be shocked to hear that older people in Northern Ireland do not have the same level of protection in law as those in England, Scotland and Wales.

"Last year I advised the Minister of Health on the need to introduce a law to protect older people from abuse, and my call for legislation received wide political support. Whilst I welcomed the publication of the Adult Safeguarding policy in July as an important first step to secure better protection for older people, I reaffirm my view that nothing short of a single Adult Safeguarding Bill in Northern Ireland can provide older people with confidence that they will be supported and protected when required.

"Older people in Northern Ireland deserve to have confidence that if they experience abuse, or are at risk of abuse, that the law can adequately protect them, and punish those who carry out abuse. I am reiterating my call to the Minister and the department to act without delay to introduce legislation to better protect older people from abuse. Older people don't have time to wait and the longer new legislation is delayed, the longer older people will remain at risk of abuse."