New law to end abuse loophole

East Devon MP Hugo Swire has welcomed a new law that closes a loophole previously exploited by those accused of abusing children or vulnerable adults.

Some of those accused have tried to escape justice by staying silent or blaming someone else, writes David Beasley.

Up until now a legal loophole has meant the authorities could not punish them. But the new law means they will now face up to 10 years in prison.

The new Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Act 2012, which came into force on Monday, extends the offence of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult to cover causing or allowing serious physical harm – like inflicting brain damage or broken bones.

The act is the result of a private member’s bill introduced by Conservative MP Sir Paul Beresford.

Mr Swire said: “It is appalling to think that a legal loophole meant that terrible crimes of abuse could go unpunished. The Crown Prosecution Service say cases where no successful prosecution could be brought include a five-month-old baby who suffered a brain haemorrhage and fractured skull and a two-week-old baby with a broken collar bone, ribs and leg.

“This new law will mean that for those who abuse the most vulnerable, there is nowhere to hide.”

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Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke added: “We want to do everything possible to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society are kept safe in their homes, and those that abuse their power do not evade justice.”