Human rights act:
The Human Rights Act 1998 (also known as the Act or the HRA) came into force in the United Kingdom in October 2000. It is composed of a series of sections that have the effect of codifying the protections in the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. All public bodies (such as courts, police, local governments, hospitals, publicly funded schools, and others) and other bodies carrying out public functions have to comply with the Convention rights. The Human Rights Act protects individuals from torture (mental, physical or both), inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment and deportation or extradition (being sent to another country to face criminal charges) if there is a real risk that they will face torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Torture occurs when someone acting in an official capacity (for example a police officer or soldier) deliberately causes serious pain or suffering (physical or mental) to another person. This might be to punish someone, or to intimidate or obtain information from them. Public authorities are not allowed to inflict such treatment on individuals, and they must also protect them from this treatment where it comes from someone else. For example, if they know an individual is suffering inhumane or degrading treatment, they must intervene to stop it. Inhuman treatment or punishment includes serious physical assaults, psychological interrogation, inhumane detention conditions or restraints, failing to give medical treatment or taking it away from a person with a serious illness and threatening to torture someone, if the threat is real and immediate. Relating this to Winterbourne house, the staff must be aware that they must maintain the highest standards of care whilst making sure that they do not breach any of the legislation within the Human Rights Act. This means that they must be able to find out if an individual is being abused within or out of the day centre. The Sexual Offences Act 2003:
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 was passed with the aim of protecting vulnerable adults and children from sexual abuse and exploitation. A number of the Act's provisions may be relevant to older people with mental health problems, including the introduction of a number of new offences to protect 'at risk' groups such as people with learning disabilities and other groups with reduced capacity such as people with advanced dementia, strengthening the Sex Offenders Register to ensure that the location of people who have committed serious sex-related crimes are known to the police, addressing the fear of sexual crime and strengthening and clarifying the meaning of 'non-consensual' sex and overhauling the law on consent: the Act introduces a test of 'reasonableness' on consent and a list of circumstances in which it can be presumed that consent was very unlikely to have been given, e.g. when the victim was asleep. The sections of the Act covering offences committed against those who, because of a very profound mental disorder, lack the capacity to consent to sexual activity may be relevant to older people with a 'mental disorder' who are service users. The Act specifically recognises that whilst the vast majority of people working in the care professions act compassionately, it is clear that some unscrupulous individuals have taken advantage of their position to commit a 'breach of a relationship of care' by sexual abuse. It is now an offence for those engaged in providing care, assistance or services to someone with a learning disability or mental disorder to engage in sexual activity with that person whether or not that person has the capacity to consent. However, this does not apply if the sexual relationship pre-dates the relationship of care: for example, where a spouse (or long-term partner) is caring for their partner following the onset of a mental disorder, e.g. dementia, and continues to have a consensual sexual relationship with that person. Mental...
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