Guidance

How we deal with safeguarding concerns

Find out how to get help if you have concerns that someone is being abused or neglected under a lasting power of attorney, enduring power of attorney or deputy court order.

The person who made a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or enduring power of attorney (EPA) is ‘the donor’ and they give authority to one or more trusted people known as their ‘attorneys’.

The Court of Protection appoints someone (a ‘deputy’) to make decisions for a person who lacks mental capacity (a ‘client’) under a deputy court order.

What sort of concerns we can help with

You might have worries about:

  • how an attorney has acted since we registered the LPA or EPA – for example, misuse of the donor’s money or decisions that are not in the donor’s best interests
  • whether an attorney made an LPA or EPA legally
  • how a deputy has acted since they were appointed by the Court of Protection

By law, we can look into these concerns and start an investigation.

How to report a concern

If you want to report a concern, you can help us protect the donor or client quickly by providing:

  • the donor or client’s details (including full name, address and date of birth)
  • the date you first noticed the concern
  • whether the concern is ongoing
  • any evidence you have to support the concern – for example, financial records
  • what you know about the donor or client’s mental capacity, including copies of any mental capacity reports or names of who might have these
  • your contact details

If you do not have all of this information, you can still report a concern to us.

We’ll then assess if we have the legal authority to investigate.

What happens during an investigation

We review circumstances throughout our investigations and if we think other agencies need to be involved in safeguarding the donor or client, we’ll let them know.

In most cases we’ll:

  • ask a Court of Protection visitor to assess the donor’s mental capacity and, if possible, ask the donor about the concerns we’ve received
  • ask the attorneys or deputies for explanations and evidence about the concerns
  • ask social services for any information they have about the person’s mental capacity, finances and care, and whether anyone has reported safeguarding concerns with the local authority
  • ask for paperwork such as bank statements, receipts and legal and medical papers

In some cases we could:

Pass to another agency

Where there are concerns that the Office of the Public Guardian and the Court of Protection do not have the authority to act on, we’ll pass the case to another agency that can take action. For example, we’ll make a safeguarding adults at risk (SAAR) referral to the local authority.

Pass to police

We’ll tell the police if we think a crime has been committed.

How long an investigation takes

That depends on how complicated it is, how many people are involved and how quickly people give us information. We try to finish an investigation within 14 weeks.

What happens at the end of an investigation

We may take any of the following actions:

Further action

If we find there are concerns about the way the attorney or deputy is carrying out their role, we’ll ask them to take certain actions. We may do this even if we think they are generally acting in the donor or client’s best interests.

We’ll monitor the case until the actions have been carried out and we’re satisfied with the results.

Take no further action

If we’ve investigated and found that an attorney or deputy is acting in the best interests of the person they’re making decisions for, we’ll take no further action.

This is also the case if we’ve passed the details of the concern to another agency.

Apply to the Court of Protection

If we have serious concerns about the wellbeing of a donor or client, we can ask the Court of Protection to make a decision.

The Court of Protection can take action such as:

  • freezing a donor’s or client’s bank accounts
  • ordering the attorney or deputy to provide information to us

As a last resort, we can ask the Court of Protection to:

  • cancel an LPA
  • remove an attorney or deputy
  • appoint a suitable person to replace the attorney or deputy

If the attorney or deputy is replaced

If we apply to the Court of Protection to remove an attorney or deputy, we’ll ask them to consider someone else (a deputy) to take over the donor or client’s affairs.

Who we tell about the outcome of an investigation

We’ll tell people connected with the investigation about our final decision. However, we protect the privacy of donors and clients so we do not provide detailed information.

Personal information

We protect the identity of anyone who reports a concern to us, unless they tell us otherwise.

We only share information about concerns or investigations outside OPG:

See our personal information charter for full details of our privacy policy.

Published 11 July 2019