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Contemporary welfare is closely linked to policies designed to foster individual responsibility and self-development. This agenda, however, encounters problems when adults lack the capacity to make decisions about their lives, and/or are unable to protect themselves from the malign actions of their fellow citizens. These problems are addressed by the 2005 Mental Capacity Act (England and Wales) and adult safeguarding procedures. Specifically, the 2005 Mental Capacity Act (England and Wales) (MCA) introduced a statutory advocacy service, which empowers local authorities to appoint an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) to represent the interests of adult lacking capacity to make decisions about adult safeguarding procedures. This paper presents (i) a general overview of the development of adult safeguarding and the introduction of the MCAs IMCA service into these procedures; (ii) findings from a research project investigating the integration of IMCAs into these procedures; and (iii) a discussion of the challenges facing IMCAs involved in adult safeguarding procedures. © 2010 The Author.

Original publication




Journal article


British Journal of Social Work

Publication Date





1058 - 1069