I have been asked to reply.
The Government deplore abuse of all older people. We have set out standards of care and treatment for older people in the national service framework and in national minimum standards for care homes and domiciliary care agencies. We have also created independent regulators and given them the powers they need to take action against poorly providing performers. Staff who provide personal care to older people in their own homes or in care homes are subject to statutory checks, including checks of their criminal record and the protection of vulnerable adults scheme.
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 introduces a new vetting and barring scheme which will be passed in from autumn 2008. The new scheme will be proactive, with vetting taking place on an individual's first application to work with children or vulnerable adults. This will make it far more difficult for abusers to gain access to the most vulnerable groups in our society.
Statutory guidance has been issued to local authorities on putting in place multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable people from abuse. "No Secrets" makes it clear that local strategies for the prevention of abuse of vulnerable adults should include plans to disseminate information to users, carers, relevant staff groups and agencies to ensure they are aware of local arrangements including how to report abuse.
The Department has commissioned research, jointly with Comic Relief, on the prevalence and nature of abuse of older people who live in their own homes. It will be published later this year.