An article in this morning's Herald contains the worrying news of appropriate safeguards not being implemented over Power of Attorneys in Scotland.
Powers of attorney were introduced in the year 2000 as part of the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act. A power of attorney is a document which enables people to appoint an adult to make financial and welfare decisions on their behalf. Around 200,000 people across Scotland currently have such an order in place.
But according to a new report by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, many people are being put at risk because safeguards to protect them from abuse are not being implemented correctly.
Between 2003 and 2009, Mr and Mrs D, who both have learning disabilities, were abused physically and financially by a relative who had coerced the couple into giving him control over their affairs. No fewer than 40 concerns were noted over the six years, but it took until 2009 before the power of attorney was revoked and another relative stepped in.
The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland says that such examples show a requirement for "urgent changes to legislation”. They have called on the Law Society, local authorities and the Office of the Public Guardian to review and take action over their responsibilities under the law. They have also asked the Scottish Government to revise current legislation, in particular to say that powers of attorney should not be granted where the decision to grant is based only on information provided by the third party who will be the attorney.
What do you think? Is the current legislation strong enough? Should local authorities be doing more to safeguard against such abuse?