Page last updated at 01:22 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 02:22 UK

Review of vulnerable adult care

Steven Hoskin
Stephen Hoskin was tortured to death by a gang in 2006

The government is launching a major review of the protection given to the elderly and other vulnerable adults.

Charity Action on Elder Abuse says current care guidance is often ignored, leading to "atrocious" cases of physical, mental and financial abuse.

It is demanding new legislation to tackle elder abuse, 67% of which, it says, is perpetrated in people's own homes by family, friends or neighbours.

Scotland recently passed a law to give greater protection to at-risk adults.

But in England and Wales, social services and other bodies simply have guidance to follow which they can opt out of.

New offence

Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) says financial exploitation in particular is a growing problem.

It says that in the last two years it has dealt with almost 900 cases of money or assets - including 178 houses - being stolen from older people by members of their own family.

The thefts amounted to a total of 41.5m.

Among the questions the consultation will ask is whether there should be a new offence created of ill-treating a vulnerable adult.

The AEA is also demanding legalisation to allow the creation and funding of adult protection committees across Britain.

The charity cites a number of examples of abuse, including the case of Stephen Hoskin, a man with severe learning difficulties who died while under the care of Cornwall social services in 2006.

He was tortured and murdered after being "befriended" by a gang and a review later concluded that agencies involved in his care had missed 40 warnings and chances for intervention.

Abuse action plan 'sees progress'
16 Sep 08 |  Cornwall
Financial abuse of elderly 'huge'
06 Sep 08 |  Business
Murder victim failed by agencies
05 Dec 07 |  Cornwall

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