On 21 March 2005, provisions were introduced which create a new offence of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult, which will allow the prosecution of household members who have frequent contact with the victim if:
- they were aware or ought to have been aware that the victim was at significant risk of serious physical harm from a member of the household;
- they failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the child or vulnerable adult coming to harm; and
- the person subsequently died as a result of an unlawful act by one member of the household in circumstances that the other members ought to have foreseen.
The maximum prison sentence on conviction is 14 years and the prosecution does not have to prove that the defendant was personally responsible for the death.
The new regulations should provide improved protection for children and vulnerable adults.