REPORTS of suspected abuse against vulnerable adults have gone down compared to the same period last year.
The figures, which cover April last year to March this year, show that in Hartlepool the total number of referrals was 397 – down from 413 the year before.
Officers at Hartlepool Borough Council say care homes continue to be the most common location of abuse with neglect and physical abuse the most common cause.
It is the seventh time that the figures have been published after a request from Labour councillor Ged Hall, portfolio holder for adult and public health services.
In a report, John Lovatt, the council’s head of service (adult social care), said: “The total number of referrals for the reporting period 2010-11 was 397 with 145 of these requiring further investigation and action under safeguarding adult procedures.
“In the same period last year there were 413 referrals and 200 required further investigation and action under safeguarding adult procedures.”
Figures show that of the alleged victims of abuse or neglect, approximately 20 per cent of people were under the age of 65; 26 per cent were between the age of 65-79 and 51 per cent were aged 80 or over.
There were twice as many women than men referred.
Mr Lovatt said: “Comparison of the previous years reporting period shows the total number of safeguarding referrals for 2010-11 has decreased by 16 cases, or approximately 3.9 per cent.
“More significantly however the number of cases of further investigation and action taken under safeguarding procedures has reduced from 200 cases in 2009-10 to 145 cases this period, a reduction of approximately 27.5 per cent.
“It should be noted that while the volume of further investigation and action taken under safeguarding procedures has reduced, anecdotally there is evidence to suggest that the cases have become more challenging.”
He added that there had been a “significant reduction” in the number of safeguarding investigations in care homes from 138 in 2009-10 to 103 in 2010-11, a reduction of 25.4 per cent.
l To report a suspected case of abuse call the duty team on (01429) 523872 or the out of hours emergency number on 0870 2402994.