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Crime of ill-treatment or wilful neglect

Date:3 APR 2007

Carers who ill-treat or wilfully neglect a person lacking mental capacity are, from 1 April 2007, committing a crime under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The new offence will apply to anyone caring for a person who lacks capacity to make decisions for themselves, including family carers, healthcare and social care staff in hospital or care homes and those providing care in a person's home. Those protected by the offence include people with learning disabilities, dementia, or brain injuries. The offence carries a range of penalties from a fine to a prison sentence of up to five years or both. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 received Royal Assent on 7 April 2005. Some of the Act came into effect in April 2007 and the rest commences in October 2007. For an article on the Act for family practitioners see March [2007] Fam Law 231.