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Policy/Procedure Vulnerable adults - 720/18

Date Responded 09 August 2018

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held at the time of a request, by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

You asked:

1. Copies of any policies and/ or procedures the police force follow when undertaking Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Investigations or investigations of an equivalent nature.

2. In lieu of any policies and/ or procedures, can the police force please provide an overview of the steps they ordinarily follow when undertaking such investigations, including steps to obtain relevant evidence?

3. Can Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Investigations be conducted in instances in which the vulnerable adult(s) concerned is deceased?

4. Is it normal practice for the police force to interview individuals accused and/ or suspected of causing harm and/ or abusing a vulnerable adult(s)? Are there any circumstances in which the police force will not interview the accused?

5. Is it normal practice for the police force to interview the vulnerable adult(s) concerned as part of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Investigation? 6.

6. Are there any circumstances in which the police force will not interview the vulnerable adult(s)?

7. Are there any legal requirements to notify a vulnerable adult(s) they are subject to a Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Investigation? 

8. In circumstances in which the vulnerable adult(s) is deceased or mentally incapacitated, are there any legal requirements to notify their relatives, executors and/ or administrators that they are subject to a Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Investigation?

9. Are there any legal requirements to notify the accused they are subject to a Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Investigation?

In Response:

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Safeguarding Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.

I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows. Please note that some of these responses are not cassed as disclosure of actual recorded information and are supplied in the spirit of transparency.                                           

1.  Please find the link below to our policy – Protecting the vulnerable which is used as part of the risk assessment process at point of contact and when making Safeguarding adult referrals to partners. https://www.northumbria.police.uk/about_us/policies_plans_and_strategy/policies/crime/protecting_the_vulnerable/

There are a number of policies and procedures which govern investigations. Northumbria Police use the wider National Police Chiefs Council  definition of Vulnerable as part of the risk assessment process at point of contact and when making Safeguarding adult referrals to partners. Therefore the question in relation to undertaking Safeguarding Vulnerable adult investigations is too broad. The specific policy for investigations with the specialist adult abuse investigations teams is currently under review and is going through internal QA process.

2.  Each investigation (whether it meets the criminal threshold or not), undertaken by Northumbria Police will follow a bespoke investigations plan, regardless of the type of investigation. This plan will be recorded and will include an understanding and assessment of the vulnerabilities of the victim, witnesses and offenders where relevant.  The steps taken to obtain relevant evidence will depend on what the evidence is.   

3.  If there are any concerns about the cause of death, including where there is a concern that a failure of care of a vulnerable adult may have contributed to the death, or an unnatural death, investigators will investigate the circumstances around this death. If an adult dies who has not been seen by a GP within the last 14 days for example, the police will also conduct an investigation on behalf of the coroner.   If someone makes a complaint to police after the vulnerable adult is deceased and it is NOT related to the death, then an investigation would need to be considered on a case by case basis e.g. are there are other safeguarding concerns that have been highlighted by the person making a complaint, what other evidence exists, what is the offence or issue being highlighted.

4.  It is usually best practice to interview suspects/offenders. Suspects are assessed on a case by case basis in terms of their own capacity to be interviewed.

5.  Yes, the accused may be deceased, have no capacity, may not be traceable and therefore not available to be interviewed.

6.  Yes, depending on what type of investigation is under way. A full witness/victim assessment will take place prior to any witness statement being obtained and a decision made on a case by case basis as to how to achieve that witness statement e.g. written, video. If the relevant victim/witness does not have capacity for example, a formal interview/statement is unlikely.

7. There is no legal requirement and again would be considered on a case by case purpose and would consult with the relevant victim wherever possible 

8.  There is no legal requirement. A decision would be taken on a case by case basis around when and how to notify this person as they may be the offender for example, accordingly this would not simply be an automatic referral

9.  No

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