Membership of the committee
11. The council is responsible for appointing a convener and section 43(6) requires that this must not be an officer or member of the council. The ASP Code of Practice published in October 2008, and revised in 2020, suggests that it would be good practice to appoint a convener who is independent of all bodies represented on the Committee, and certainly be independent of the council, the health board and the police. Although it is not a statutory requirement this guidance strongly endorses that good practice expectation. The section of this guidance relating to Governance covers matters to do with the appointment of conveners in more detail.
12. The Act states at section 43(2) that APC membership must include representatives of the public bodies outlined at paragraph 6 above, with the exception of the council and the Care Inspectorate. The omission of the council presumably reflects the fact that as the council has established the committee it will also have representation on the committee. In practice every APC has at least one, usually several, council representatives. Very few APCs have had HIS representation since the Act was implemented in 2008 although HIS do now sit as associate members of the National Conveners' Association.
13. The Care Inspectorate, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland and the Office of the Public Guardian may nominate a representative, but there is no requirement on them to do so. Should they make a nomination the APC must allow that person to attend.
14. In practice it is common for APCs to regard themselves as quorate if there is representation from the council, the NHS and Police Scotland. This is a pragmatic and appropriate position to take and is in keeping with the spirit of the legislation.
15. Sections 43(4) & (5) state that the council may also appoint any other such persons who appear to have skills and knowledge relevant to the functions of the committee. In practice across Scotland appointments to the committee are delegated to the APC itself, and this guidance regards this as being proportionate and appropriate. All committee members should be of sufficient seniority to represent their organisations in discussions and decisions about policy, resources and strategy.
16. A wide range of statutory services contribute to the protection of adults at risk. Effective adult protection can only be achieved when it is planned and delivered within the wider context of public protection and community safety. APCs should therefore consider membership that includes representatives from Child Protection services, Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), Criminal Justice and Scottish Fire & Rescue.
17. All APCs have a range of sub committees and membership of this need not be drawn from the APC itself. This gives the opportunity to engage other agencies in the work of the committee without having to be full committee members.
18. In this context it would be important to consider involvement and engagement with:
- services for adults, children and families
- other council services including housing, education, consumer protection, trading standards and community safety
- health services including general practitioners, allied health professionals, acute and psychiatric hospitals and community health services
- third and independent sector organisations e.g. care providers and carer groups
- the financial sector
- independent advocacy organisations
19. The need to support and protect adults at risk extends to adults within managed and registered care services, the NHS and independent hospitals and hospices. Where harm occurs or is suspected in these situations, the Care Inspectorate or HIS has a responsibility through its regulatory functions of inspection, investigating complaints and enforcement as well as a duty to make adult support and protection referrals. APCs will want to ensure a proper understanding of roles and responsibilities between the Care Inspectorate, HIS and local agencies who will have their own monitoring arrangements.
20. The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWC) has particular statutory responsibilities in relation to the care and treatment of people with mental disorders both in monitoring practice and carrying out inspections and inquiries as well as their duties to make adult support and protection referrals. APCs will want to ensure that arrangements are agreed and understood about the relationship between local agencies and the MWC in adult support and protection work. Similar understanding will need to be developed with the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland). It may be that the National Conveners' Association can assist with this.
21. Each Committee should ensure that their discussion and decisions are fully informed and cognisant of the interests and concerns of local adults at risk and their carers. This may be achieved in a variety of ways, for example:
- there may be a number of places on the Committee reserved for representatives of adults who have received or might need adult protection services and carers. Every possible means of facilitating participation (such as advocacy, pre-meetings, supporters, interpreting services and the payment of travel expenses) should be considered.
- the Committee may establish regular contact with representative groups in their area, and ensure that such contact enables groups to explain their interests and concerns about adult protection as well as to give feedback on the extent to which they feel better protected by the Committees activities. It may be necessary and valuable to organise some ad hoc events where there are no established groups. Regular, carefully organised and facilitated events will ensure real exchanges of concerns and opinion.
22. Committees should consider inviting Advocacy and Carer organisations to be represented on the Committee, specifically charged with seeking out and representing the opinions of adults who may need or have needed protecting and their carers. It will be important to ensure that there is an adequate spread of interests represented, and that there is an exchange of information, rather than the Committee seeking feedback on its decisions and agenda.
23. Whichever options are chosen, it will be important for Committees as part of their regular self-assessments to consider whether it is enabling adults at risk to participate 'as fully as possible' in the carrying out of its functions (as required by the principles of the Act).
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