New powers to protect vulnerable adults in Wales from abuse have been welcomed by a charity which protects older people from abuse.
The stronger powers in the new Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act which cane into force on April 6 make it mandatory for agencies working with vulnerable adults to report suspected abuse.
Action on Elder Abuse Cymru (AEA Cymru) said the new rules brought Wales into second place in the UK in its policy for safeguarding older people, bringing it closer to the Scottish model of adult protection.
They include a duty for partners of local authorities to tell them if they think adults and children are at risk of abuse or neglect.
Local authorities also have a “duty to report” to other authorities if an at risk adult is planning to move into their area.
The act gives powers to prevent a third party from blocking access to a vulnerable person. The new adult protection and support orders will also give an “authorised officer” the power to have a confidential interview with an adult who might be at risk, without any interference from a third party.
They will be able to get a court order and go into a property “by force if necessary” to speak to a suspected vulnerable adult.
AEA Cymru director Rachael Nicholson (BOTH CORR) said: “It is a major positive step to introduce mandatory reporting of suspected abuse by agencies, as this extends the potential for victims to be identified and protected.”
Nicholson welcomed the new adult protection and support orders.
She said: “30,000 older people are abused in their homes every year in Wales and we know that many victims are unable to get the help they need because they are prohibited by their abusers from speaking to those who can offer support and safety.”
The act brings together local authorities and health boards in new statutory partnerships to assess people’s care and support needs and the services they need to offer.
The new rules are designed to give people more control over the support they need and help them make decisions about their care.
There will also be a new national independent safeguarding board.
Local safeguarding boards made up of local councils, police chiefs, health boards, NHS trusts and probation will be responsible for protecting adults and children from harm neglect or abuse.
Local councils will also have to keep a list of people with disabilities, sight or hearing impairment, or who might need care and support in the future.
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