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Office of the Public Guardian

Justice written question – answered on 27th July 2010.

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Photo of Duncan Hames Duncan Hames Liberal Democrat, Chippenham

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many investigations have been conducted by the Office of the Public Guardian in each of the last three years; and how many of these have resulted in consequent action being taken by the Public Guardian.

Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The functions of the Office of the Public Guardian, as laid down in section 58 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, include the ability to investigate any concerns around the way in which an attorney, appointed either under a registered enduring power of attorney (EPA) or lasting power of attorney (LPA), or a deputy appointed by the Court of Protection is carrying out their responsibilities.

Since 1 October 2007 the OPG has received a total of 2,559 referrals, all of which undergo an initial assessment in order to ascertain the level of risk to the vulnerable adult and the priority of the situation. After this initial assessment the cases were dealt with as follows:

1,195 required a more formal in depth investigation by the OPG;

1,080 were signposted to social services department, the police or elsewhere (because they fell outside the OPG's jurisdiction);

284 resulted in no other action being taken as the referral was found to warrant no action.

The breakdown by year of the 1,195 formal investigations is as follows:

2007: 29

2008: 294

2009: 544

2010 (to date): 328

Of this 1,195 total since October 2007, 998 formal investigations have so far been concluded and action taken.

Actions taken by the OPG at the conclusion of a formal investigation have included: applying to the Court of Protection for the removal of either the deputy or the attorney, severance of an EPA or an LPA, increasing the supervision level of the case, serving the attorney with a censure letter whereby the attorney is told to improve in specific areas or face further action. Some cases have resulted in a referral to the police.

Where cases are signposted to a third party, this is because the cases fall outside the jurisdiction of the OPG, which only covers registered enduring or lasting powers of attorney or deputies appointed by the Court of Protection.

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