Towards Enhanced Adult Safeguarding: Proposals for Legislative Reform

The Law Reform Commission has put forth a 1,000-page report today, unveiling a proposed statutory and regulatory framework for adult safeguarding. After thorough examination of current domestic laws and policies, along with a comprehensive review of adult safeguarding frameworks in various jurisdictions, the Commission presents two draft bills: the Adult Safeguarding Bill 2024 and the Criminal Law (Adult Safeguarding) Bill 2024.

Findings reveal that existing statutory bodies have limited capacity to intervene in cases of abuse or neglect involving at-risk adults, as evidenced by notable incidents like those at Leas Cross, Áras Attracta, and in cases involving the ‘Grace’ case, the ‘Brandon’ case, and the ‘Emily’ case over the past two decades.

The Commission suggests imposing safeguarding duties on service providers, requiring them to manage their services to prevent harm to at-risk adults, conduct risk assessments, and draft adult safeguarding statements. Additionally, it advocates for the establishment of a social work-led Adult Safeguarding Body with statutory responsibilities for promoting the health, safety, and welfare of at-risk adults. Furthermore, it proposes expanding the regulatory oversight of existing bodies like HIQA and the Mental Health Commission.

Further recommendations include statutory protection for individuals reporting harm to at-risk adults in good faith, along with mandatory reporting duties for certain occupations and professions. Additionally, the Commission proposes the introduction of four new criminal offenses: intentional or reckless abuse, neglect, or ill-treatment of a relevant person; exposure of a relevant person to risk of serious harm or sexual abuse; coercive control of a relevant person; and coercive exploitation of a relevant person.

In conclusion, the proposed legislative reforms outlined by the Law Reform Commission mark a significant step towards bolstering protections for at-risk adults in our society. By introducing comprehensive safeguarding duties, establishing dedicated oversight bodies, and introducing new criminal offenses, these measures aim to ensure the safety, dignity, and well-being of vulnerable individuals. Implementation of these recommendations promises to instigate a paradigm shift in how we approach adult safeguarding, fostering a culture of accountability, vigilance, and respect for the rights of all members of our community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *