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Rob Ratcliff was the Content and Community Manager of IFSEC Global.com. He is a self-confessed everyman in the world of security and fire, keen to learn from the global community of experts who have been a part of IFSEC for 40 years now.
February 27, 2013

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Rosepark Care Home Fire Bill to Pass Lords

A bill tabled in the House of Lords in order to close the loophole that enabled the owners of the Rosepark care home, where 14 died, to escape prosecution is due to pass today.

Click here to view Figure 1.

The fire at Rosepark in 2004 was caused by an earth fault in an electrical distribution box, but the deaths of the residents were described as “avoidable” in a 2011 report.

Ten died in the blaze while four others succumbed to their injuries in hospital — it was the worst fire in a care home in the UK.

A lengthy investigation into the care home’s owners was ultimately unsuccessful as the company dissolved the partnership which ran the care home; a loophole in the law meant that they could not therefore be prosecuted.

A further attempt to prosecute in 2008 was also unsuccessful.

Lord Wallace, who introduced the Bill in November 2012, said:

The Rosepark fire was a terrible tragedy, compounded by the fact prosecutors were unable to find a legal basis to bring those responsible for the deaths of 14 vulnerable people to justice. Closing this loophole is important and it will ensure no one will have to endure the same frustrations as the bereaved families in this case in future. Simply dissolving a partnership will no longer put you beyond prosecution.

The Bill demonstrates the ability and commitment of the UK Government to take forward Scottish legislation at Westminster to ensure the law for which it is responsible is effective.

 

The bill is having its final reading in the House of Lords today, the final step before the bill is passed on to the Commons for approval.

If it makes it through the House of Commons then it will signal provision for the prosecution of partnerships, partners, and others, following their dissolution or changes in membership.

It’s not clear whether this would clear the way for a reexamination of the case against Rosepark’s former owners.

Some of the key lessons from the blaze were revealed in late 2011, including a presentation from the Scottish Building Standards Agency which identified a range of potential weaknesses in its care home guidance.

Much of this has been reviewed, but the issue of the loophole relating to dissolved partnerships is not associated with any inadequacies in fire safety guidance that might have led to the deaths of the 14.

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Welland
Welland
February 28, 2013 7:56 am

Such a sad case of people losing loved ones due to a series of errors that were avoidable. I welcome anything that allows all people to be held accountable for their neglegence.

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
February 28, 2013 11:19 am
Reply to  Welland

Indeed, and the most amazing thing is how slow the wheels of justice and reform turn. But better they get it right and it take almost a decade than for them to rush legilsation through and leave another loophole…

Finbar
Finbar
February 28, 2013 12:22 pm

It is about time they closed this loophole but the question needs to be why so long? … Why could this not have been passed before the second failed prosecution? We know that so many unscrupulous “business” people set up in easy avenues such as care homes because they can see how easy the takings are and they maximise this by spending as little as they can on staff wages and health & safety in these places. Then ass seen in this case, the simply disolved the business and walked away “Scott Free”, lets hope they were prevented from setting… Read more »