A senior police officer has called for careful policing to make sure assisted suicide is not used to get rid of elderly people considered burdensome.
Barbara Wilding, who is stepping down as Chief Constable in South Wales, issued the warning during an interview with The Daily Telegraph.
She said: “On assisted suicide, from a policing perspective we need to be very careful on this to make sure it does not become a way of getting rid of a burden.
“I will be watching any change in legislation very carefully”.
Miss Wilding’s warning follows recent debates over the issue of assisted suicide, during which a bid to weaken the current law was defeated in the House of Lords.
Groups representing elderly and disabled people have spoken out strongly against such attempts, warning that robust rules are needed to protect vulnerable people.
Miss Wilding also said the abuse of the elderly “is something that we have yet to really grasp”, comparing it to child abuse in that the victims are often unable to speak out.
“It is one of the things that I think will be the next social explosion”, she said.
Last November the Government’s Voice of Older People, Dame Joan Bakewell, told the Telegraph that dementia sufferers should be allowed to die once their identities had faded away.
Two months before, Baroness Warnock sparked controversy by suggesting that elderly people suffering from dementia are “wasting people’s lives” and “wasting the resources of the National Health Service” and should be allowed to die.