REPORTS of physical, emotional and financial abuse against adults in Worcestershire have risen dramatically in just a year.
A report published by the Worcestershire Safeguarding Adults Board shows a leap of 49 per cent in cases flagged up in 2013/14 compared to the previous year – 2,232 and 1,501 respectively.
Alerts can be raised by family members or professionals, following which a decision can be made to make a referral to investigate the issue more fully. In 2013/14, there were 1,430 referrals which accounted for 64 per cent of the total alerts made.
The incident can also be referred on to the police for a possible criminal investigation and this occurred in 28.7 per cent of cases – with 410 reports to officers compared to 339 the previous year.
In 40 per cent of all cases which were progressed, the alleged abuse was confirmed or partly confirmed while in 20 per cent of incidents the evidence proved inconclusive as to whether abuse had occurred.
Care homes are the places most likely to be reported as the venue for suspected abuse, accounting for 43 per cent of all cases compared to 35 per cent in residents’ homes and eight per cent in hospitals – a total of 180 incidents compared to 75 last year.
The most common types of abuse were physical (over 700 alerts), neglect (more than 600) and financial (over 300) with emotional and sexual abuse accounting for more than 200 and 100 respectively, while just under 60 per cent of alleged victims were women.
A total of 34 per cent of those affected were aged 18 to 64 while 12 per cent were aged 65 to 74, 25 per cent 75 to 84 and 29 per cent over 85. In all 17 per cent of alerts related to people with learning disabilities, five per cent to adults with mental health and substance misuse issues and nine per cent those with physical or sensory disabilities.
Independent chair Pete Morgan said: “The board has taken considerable progress towards realising its objectives to make Worcestershire a safer place for all, but the most vulnerable in particular.
“The coming year will be a challenging one for the board and its members. This makes it even more important that they and elected members are honest and open with service users, carers, the public and their staff as to what they can and can’t do.
“The resources available are not just financial ones, important though these are. The board will strive to ensure that those resources that are available are used as effectively and as efficiently as possible to safeguard the citizens of Worcestershire.”
A spokeswoman for Worcestershire County Council added: “Safeguarding is everyone’s business. In all cases of safeguarding alerts, whether proved or not, action is taken with the agreement of the individual, to ensure their future protection and safety.
“Alerts are screened at point of referral to us and a significant number do not actually require triggering safeguarding adult procedures. Other more proportionate responses to the concern are taken which are appropriate for need of the individual such as advice or the provision of a particular service.”