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Carers who ill-treat or wilfully neglect a person lacking mental capacity are, from 1 April 2007, committing a crime under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The new offence will apply to anyone caring for a person who lacks capacity to make decisions for themselves, including family carers, healthcare and social care staff in hospital or care homes and those providing care in a person's home. Those protected by the offence include people with learning disabilities, dementia, or brain injuries. The offence carries a range of penalties from a fine to a prison sentence of up to five years or both. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 received Royal Assent on 7 April 2005. Some of the Act came into effect in April 2007 and the rest commences in October 2007. For an article on the Act for family practitioners see March  Fam Law 231.
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