EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT - RESULTS
Title of Policy
New offences in relation to wilful neglect or ill-treatment of those receiving care or treatment in health and social care settings
Summary of aims and desired outcomes of Policy
To create new criminal offences which will allow the criminal justice system to deal with extreme cases of neglect and ill-treatment in health and social care settings.
Directorate: Division: team
Healthcare Quality and Strategy Directorate: Planning and Quality Division: Person-Centred and Quality Team
Creating offences in relation to wilful neglect or ill-treatment will ensure that there is consistency in the options available to the Police and prosecutors to deal with cases of ill-treatment or neglect wherever they occur in the health and social care system. The legislation will have a positive impact in allowing access to justice for those not currently covered by the existing offences in the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 ("2003 Act") and the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000. The proposals will affect those users and providers of health and social care as well as the courts, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Police, and the Scottish Prison Service .
Equality issues were considered during the policy development process and the proposals were not considered to give rise to the possibility of those affected being treated less favourably due to any of the protected characteristics.
It was therefore considered that a relatively limited Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) would be appropriate. The focus of the data gathering and consideration was on determining whether there may be any inadvertent effects on different groups by examining the populations likely to be affected by the proposals.
The EQIA confirmed that the proposals are unlikely to have any negative effect on the basis of the protected characteristics. There is potential for the provisions to have some positive differential effects for victims of neglect and ill-treatment.
Available data is of limited value in assessing the true extent to which
individuals with protected characteristics will be affected by these provisions in the Bill. There are challenges in establishing credible information about levels of wilful neglect or ill-treatment. In considering the possible numbers of cases we have looked at the number of prosecutions in relation to the existing offence in the 2003 Act.
No changes to the policy were considered necessary following the EQIA. However, the Scottish Government will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure full account is taken of equality issues.
7. Existing legislative and regulatory provisions (including the 2003 Act) which may apply in some cases of wilful neglect or ill-treatment are not considered sufficient to cover all situations of neglect or ill-treatment that may arise.
8. The intention of the provisions on wilful neglect or ill-treatment is to ensure that the worst cases of ill-treatment or deliberate neglect, which may be uncommon, can be dealt with effectively by the criminal justice system. The provisions on wilful neglect or ill-treatment will establish a new criminal offence which will apply to individual care workers, managers and supervisors, either employed, or volunteering on behalf of a voluntary organisation, who provide care or treatment. There will also be an offence which will apply to organisations.
The Scope of the EQIA
9. Policy officials from the Scottish Government were involved in carrying out the EQIA. The data on wilful neglect or ill-treatment under existing offences is restricted to information on prosecution, conviction and sentencing for such offences and is not available broken down in relation to protected characteristics.
10. People who are in receipt of care or treatment in healthcare or social care settings will not be adversely affected by these proposals. From conducting our EQIA we have found no evidence of unlawful discrimination which our proposals need to address.
11. In respect of advancing equality of opportunity, there is no evidence to suggest that the Bill will have either a positive or negative impact on anyone due to their protected characteristic.
12. On promoting good relations, there is no evidence to suggest that the Bill will have either a positive or negative impact on anyone due to their protected characteristic.
Recommendations and Conclusion
13. The Scottish Government has concluded that no changes to the policy are necessary as a result of the EQIA, as the proposals in the Bill are intended to apply equally to all affected, and appear to have no significant differential effect of the basis of the protected characteristics.
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