Investigations into care home abuse claims in Suffolk reveal ‘worrying trend’

Suffolk County Council says it is working with partners to deal with concerns over adults at risk of

Suffolk County Council says it is working with partners to deal with concerns over adults at risk of abuse. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

More than 200 investigations into alleged care home abuse in Suffolk have resulted in just two charges despite a new neglect law, it can be revealed.

DCI Barry Byford of Suffolk Constabulary

DCI Barry Byford of Suffolk Constabulary - Credit: Archant

Suffolk Constabulary carried out 224 enquiries into alleged carer abuse and neglect between April 2015, when new legislation was introduced to help prosecute care workers and organisations guilty of abuse, and September 2017.

The cases involved 208 victims but only two people were charged under the Courts and Criminal Justice Act 2015, police data uncovered under Freedom of Information laws showed.

Campaigners say the new law has closed a legal loophole in which people who ill-treat or wilfully neglect adults in their paid care escape charge. Abusive carers can be fined and even jailed for up to five years.

Sarah Adams, Suffolk Labour's spokesperson for health and adult care, said: 'This is a very worrying trend. We are hearing about increased levels of violence against those being cared for by their carers from a number of different organisations and these figures only back up what we are hearing.

'If there are 224 reported cases of abuse by carers, how many cases go unreported because they are committed by a family member or friend?

'Carers do an incredible job and in many cases they are unpaid and untrained family members, but this does not mean that carers should be immune from prosecution where it is merited.'

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Suffolk Constabulary said 83pc of the alleged cases were transferred to partners for further investigation.

Detective Chief Inspector Barry Byford said every case is 'carefully assessed'.

He said: 'Charges may be brought against abusers under the 2015 law but also under a number of alternative existing pieces of legislation, including charges of assault, theft, fraud, or neglect.'

Campaigners have suggested that the installation of CCTV cameras should be mandatory in all care homes.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: '(We) work in collaboration with police, health, and other partners within the Suffolk multi-agency safeguarding hub in (our) response to reported concerns about the safety of adults at risk of abuse.

'Decisions about the best course of action in each case are made collaboratively, based on individual circumstances.'

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