Act follows private members bill introduced by Conservative MP Sir Paul Beresford
Justice secretary Ken Clarke has announced a change in the law to extend the offence of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult.
From Monday next week, the offence will also cover causing or allowing serious physical harm, such as inflicting brain damage or broken bones. The change will be made under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Act 2012.
“By making sure this bill became law we have taken the opportunity to close a terrible loophole which has, until now, allowed people accused of seriously harming a child or vulnerable adult to escape unpunished,” Clarke said.
“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.”
The Act follows a private member’s bill introduced by Conservative MP Sir Paul Beresford, which the government backed.
“After spending time with the Metropolitan Police I realised there were loopholes in the law that the government could close to protect children and vulnerable adults,” Sir Paul said.
“This new legislation will ensure that fewer cases of abuse slip through the net and is another safeguard to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”
A spokesman for the MoJ added that Crown Prosecution Service data on cases where children were seriously harmed, but no successful prosecution could be brought, included a five-month-old baby who suffered a brain haemorrhage and fractured skull and a two-week-old with a broken collar bone, ribs and leg.