Corey Mwamba

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Petition: Give the OPG more powers

It has been a very tough time for my family over the last year and a half.

Last January, we found that my eldest aunt had not been paying the nurse hired to look after my grandparents; she balked at paying her $5000JMD (£27) per month. We arranged to pay her wages; but this raised extra concern for my grandparents' health, and my grand-uncle gave us the money to fly them back to the U.K. On hearing this, my aunt began ringing my grandparents in Jamaica every day in tears, swearing at and threatening my grandparents, and telling them not to come back. The rest of my family then discovered that in 2012 my aunt had taken all their papers, including passports and the deed to the house in Jamaica.

My grandparents arrived back in the UK on 12 May 2014, and as elderly people were disorientated, vulnerable, and in dire need of clothing and money to sustain their visit and to address their health needs.

My grandfather had an ulcer on his right leg that was not healing due to lack of arterial supply; cataracts in both eyes; high blood pressure; and osteoarthritis of the back, which affected his ability to walk upright and unaided. My grandmother also has high blood pressure; diabetes, and was diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease. My parents care for them now (with the physical and emotional stress that goes with care), and they have been able to get the treatment they vitally needed. But it didn't stop there. We couldn't understand why they had no money, since they had full rights to state pensions; as well as private pensions, and savings. We found that my aunt had obtained power of attorney back in 2012 and was controlling their money. We contacted the banks, and found that a series of accounts had been opened and closed in my grandparents' name without their knowledge.

We contacted the Office of the Public Guardian and the police in June 2014. Within three weeks of the OPG's investigation, my aunt revoked her powers as attorney. This ended the OPG's efforts: there was no report, no further action was taken. The police officer remarked that the OPG's inability to follow through an investigation was "frustrating"; they were slow to respond to request for information, and once my aunt had revoked her powers they lost all interest. The police continued with their investigation, and reported that she had indeed taken monies "from several of my grandparents' accounts and savings for her own benefit"; but without the report from the OPG our case was weakened; and the strain would have been too much for my grandparents. Indeed, the strain of the investigation has affected all of us. But if the Public Guardian had greater powers to investigate, pursue and (if required) prosecute attorneys and deputies in cases such as these, this emotional distress could have been alleviated much sooner.

We're just on the other side of it all now, and focusing on looking after an elderly couple. But I don't want to see this happen to anyone else; which is why I created the following petition.

There is nothing more that can be done for my family; but with greater powers, the Public Guardian could protect more people in unfortunate cases such as this.

If you choose to support the petition, many thanks.