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Office of the Public Guardian publishes Safeguarding Strategy

OPG has published its Safeguarding Strategy for 2019 to 2025, setting out plans to improve the safeguarding services offered to vulnerable adults.

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has published its Safeguarding Strategy for 2019 to 2025. The policy paper, published on 29 April 2019, set outs how the OPG plans to improve the safeguarding services offered to vulnerable adults.   

The OPG’s role is to deal with the registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney and Enduring Powers of Attorney, supervise Deputies appointed by the Court of Protection and investigate concerns about Deputies and Attorneys.

As part of the six year plan, the OPG plans to develop a fully online service for registering Lasting Powers of Attorney, which it considers will make system easier to use and more accessible. This comes as the Law Commission are carrying out a wider consultation on the execution of deeds and the use of e-signatures on legal documents generally. 

A fully-online service could be open to abuse and would put vulnerable persons at risk. In addition, an online registration service would not be universally accessible and could alienate those, such as the elderly, who may not be computer-literate or have access to the internet. In 2014, the Ministry of Justice consulted on the introduction of online Lasting Powers of Attorney.  Those plans were postponed following concerns raised by professional bodies that a move to online only applications would cause more safeguarding issues than those which exist under the current system.

Under the current legislation, Lasting Powers of Attorney have to bear a ‘wet’ signature. There is also a requirement for an independent party to act as a “Certificate Provider”. The Certificate Provider must sign the Lasting Power of Attorney to confirm that the individual granting the power has the required mental capacity to understand the nature and effect of the document and is not being put under any undue pressure to create the document.  It is not yet known how the OPG plan to implement or enforce such safeguards with the introduction of a fully online system. 

The Safeguarding Strategy policy paper also indicates that the OPG will launch a national awareness campaign called “Your Voice, Your Decision.” Further details are awaited.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about our update, please contact Lorraine Wilson (Solicitor).

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