Government hype about a new Bill to protect ‘everyday heroes’ will put vulnerable people at risk, lawyers have warned ahead of a parliamentary debate on the Bill on Monday (21 July).
The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill is a license for have-a-go heroes to cause needless injury, for volunteers who work with children and elderly people to escape proper vetting, and for rogue bosses to dodge their responsibilities to look after their employees, said the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
“The fact that this Bill adds nothing to the current law and is therefore a waste of parliamentary time is bad enough,” said APIL president John Spencer.
“But the real danger is that populist Government rhetoric about the Bill will lead people to believe they are impervious to the law if they injure someone through their own recklessness while being ‘heroic’”.
“Those responsible for vetting volunteers to work with children will feel they can cut corners in the process, leaving youngsters vulnerable to predatory adults, because the law is said to protect volunteers” he went on.
“Employers will believe they can avoid the law if they injure workers, provided they are‘doing their best’. But what if their best is not good enough?
“Society needs volunteers,” Mr Spencer said. “But someone who wades in and injures another, or leaves a child vulnerable, very quickly becomes a bad neighbour rather than a Good Samaritan.”