Alerts over abuse of vulnerable adults in Hartlepool are on the rise

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

The number of abuse alerts of vulnerable Hartlepool people went up in the last year by more than 100.

Hartlepool Borough Council says it has seen a “significant increase” in safeguarding concerns identifying possible cases of abuse in adults.

This demonstrates that local people are aware of who to contact should they have concerns about a vulnerable adult

Councillor Stephen Thomas

In 2015-16 the authority received 538 alerts, a 25% rise, compared to the previous year’s total of 430.

But the council says the increase is a positive as it shows people know how to report concerns and are confident to stand up for possible victims.

Meanwhile, the number of alerts that were referred for further investigation fell from 125 in 2014-15 to 102 in 2015-16.

Councillor Stephen Thomas, chair of the council’s Adult Services Committee, said: “We are encouraged by the number of alerts received because this demonstrates that local people are aware of who to contact should they have concerns about a vulnerable adult.”

John Lovatt, Hartlepool council’s head of adult services, said each concern made to the council was genuine and was appropriately risk managed.

They were taken up by way of interventions by social care and care management teams or the Commissioned Services Team and dealt with as complaints or resulted in providing information, advice and guidance to the people who reported the concerns.

Of the cases that were referred for investigation, the largest area of abuse was for neglect at 47 followed by physical abuse at 30.

The most common location of abuse taking place was in care homes with 45 incidents and 33 in the victims’ own homes.

Thirteen were in a nursing home setting.

Mr Lovatt presented the figures to the last meeting of the Adult Services Committee.

He said: “The increased number of concerns is positive as it reflects that people are more aware of potential abuse of vulnerable adults and better informed about how to raise any concerns.

“It also means that lower level concerns that do not meet the threshold for a safeguarding investigation are brought to the council’s attention and appropriately addressed before potentially escalating further.”

Coun John Tennant asked: “Equally though, what is planned to attempt to bring down these figures?”

Mr Lovatt said some cases of abuse were not deliberate but due to inexperience of some care workers and the council was trying to engage earlier with care colleagues through the Better Care Fund.

He added Hartlepool’s Trading Standards team has met with all of the town’s banks to try to help to get them to report potential financial abuse they may witness.