- Sarah Whitebloom
Police Send Clear Signal over Sussex Health Care Investigation Deaths.
News over the weekend that Police are investigating the deaths of 12 former residents of Sussex Health Care homes was shocking - although it will not have been a total surprise to OLM readers, who will know a major enquiry has been under way for some time.
Of course, no one knows what the result of the investigation will be and no charges have been brought against any individual or the company. But the announcement on Friday by the Police that they are looking at the deaths - an announcement made to relatives of the deceased - certainly sent a clear public signal of Police concern.
Police know it. Prosecutors know it. Regulators know it. And, I suspect, care providers also know. It is really difficult to prosecute care abuse under current UK legislation aimed at protecting elderly and vulnerable people. It is not just that most abuse happens behind closed doors, it is the nature of the legislation that makes it so difficult. Indeed, OLM argues here that 'carers' would have to beat an old person in the street with baseball bats to stand a chance of appearing in the dock - such is the burden of required proof and intention.
Under the Courts and Criminal Justice Act 2015 - sections 20 and 21 - it is not just necessary that that vulnerable people should have been treated badly, they would probably need to be treated badly in a particular way, at particular times by particular named individuals. And, crucially, they would need to have been 'wilfully' mistreated. Such a small word - so very difficult to prove.
My father, pictured above, died last year in a care home. His death was investigated by Police.