Abuse alerts about vulnerable adults soar

Reports of abuse in the care of vulnerable adults have nearly doubled in the past year.

Islington Council’s annual review of adult social services showed 908 alerts of possible abuse in 2010/11 – an increase of 90 per cent on the previous year’s figure.

Of the referrals last year, 489 – or 54 per cent – led to an investigation. They included 155 claims of financial abuse, 128 of physical abuse, 103 of neglect, 102 of emotional abuse, 33 of sexual abuse and 12 of institutional abuse. Some cases involved more than one type of abuse.

The report by the Islington Safeguarding Adults Partnership, which went before Islington Council’s executive at a meeting last Thursday, said that abuse was substantiated in 107 cases – 22 more than the previous year – and 79 were “undetermined”.

In 10 cases disciplinary action was taken and police were involved in at least eight cases, resulting in two prosecutions or formal cautions.

No further action was taken in 30 cases and for the remainder various measures were put in place. In 24 instances the outcome was logged as “not known”.

At last week’s meeting, Cllr Janet Burgess, executive member for Health and Adult Social Care, said the figures were “shocking” but said the increase in alerts was most likely down to recent work to improve awareness about potential abuse among individuals and partners.

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But the findings have concerned Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Lib Dem opposition, who said: “Any improvement in reporting systems should be welcomed, but what is worrying is the massive jump in the number of reports, especially those which have resulted in police action, display action against staff, or where questions about staff performance have been raised.

“But what is even more worrying are the 24 cases where officers were unable to let members know the outcome of any investigations at all.”

Cllr Burgess said the 24 cases referred to were instances where the root of abuse could not be found.

She said: “Due to the vulnerable nature of the victims, and with cases often involving family members or other vulnerable adults, the council is not always able to establish who the abuser is. We investigate all allegations fully and offer all possible support to victims.”

She continued: “This report shows that we have made great progress in supporting older and vulnerable adults lead independent lives. “We provide staff and partners such as the police with the latest training in how to recognise signs of abuse to help us keep residents safe.

“We need to do all we can to encourage people to report safeguarding concerns and know that those concerns will be addressed.”