Installing CCTV in the common parts of care homes would provide a "powerful tool" for helping prevent abuse and improve standards, a Tory former attorney general has said.
Dominic Grieve QC (pictured) raised concerns about what more could be done to improve safety and security in care homes, adding that the expansion in the number of homes had been accompanied by a "constant pattern of stories concerning instances of neglect and abuse".
He argued that CCTV in communal areas "could be a really useful tool to achieving a number of important ends" including offering reassurance to residents and their families and acting as a deterrent to those who might enter the care home for an unlawful and unauthorised purpose.
It also provides an opportunity for care home managers to keep problems under review and to help staff learn from errors in delivering care.
Speaking during his Westminster Hall debate, he said: "CCTV is sometimes seen as the spy, but that's not the intention. The point about this is about being able to have systems in place that enable standards to be improved, not just to catch people who may be doing something wrong."
Mr Grieve said CCTV should be promoted in care homes, adding that he had seen evidence following a constituent's campaign, where responsible care homes were increasingly installing CCTV and were convinced of its usefulness.
The idea, he argued, raised "no privacy issues of any complexity" from a legal point of view because the common parts of many buildings had CCTV including Parliament with people being notified.
The MP for Beaconsfield said: "It will provide a powerful tool, I think, for helping prevent abuse and improve standards. It's clear that this is a form of technology that care homes with high standards are already adopting widely."
Labour's Emma Hardy (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) said CCTV as used in some nurseries could provide peace of mind and reassurance.
SNP's Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) said there needed to be a balance between protecting the vulnerable in care homes and protecting their privacy.
She added that it would be "rather sad" if such monitoring was to become the norm and CCTV could provide false assurances.
Shadow health and social care minster Julie Cooper said CCTV was "a search perhaps for a quick fix".
She stressed the dignity of residents, adding that introducing overt surveillance into communal areas could shift poor practice to other areas.
CCTV "ought to be a last resort" and was more of a "red herring than a solution", she said, adding that reversing "funding cuts" was important.
Care Minister Caroline Dinenage said that at this stage the Government "does not intend" to make installing CCTV in care homes mandatory.
She said introducing it had the potential to be intrusive and there might be pressure to do the same for people receiving domiciliary care, adding "that, of course, is a step into a whole new world".
She added that CCTV could not be a substitute for well supported, well trained staff and excellent management.
She said: "The compulsory use of CCTV cameras in the communal areas of care homes would require a change in the law and it's not clear whether that blanket approach would be proportionate or respect the needs and wishes of everyone who lives in a care home.
"There are undoubtedly cases where the better monitoring of staff would have produced benefits but. without fuller evidence. the decision to install CCTV should at this time be one for the care home provider."
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Rick Findler / PA Wire.