Rise in cases of suspected adult abuse

NEW figures reveal the number of suspected cases of abuse or neglect against vulnerable adults has rocketed by more than 20 per cent.

In Hartlepool, the number of cases rose from 159 to 192 compared to the same six-month period last year.

But senior officers say the number of cases that needed further action under safeguarding procedures actually fell from 86 to 85 for the same period.

The Hartlepool Borough Council figures cover the period between April 1 and September 30, 2011.

John Lovatt, head of service (adult social care), said: “If anybody has any concerns it is only right and proper that they are investigated and we are robust in responding.”

A report to a council meeting said: “In the reporting period of April 1 – September 30 2011, there were 192 referrals identifying possible cases of abuse or neglect brought to the attention of the duty team, 86 of these referrals required further investigation and action under safeguarding adult procedures.

“In the same period last year there were 159 referrals identifying possible cases of abuse and 85 required further investigation and action under safeguarding adult procedures.”

Labour councillor Ged Hall, portfolio holder for adult and public health services, said: “It is always good to receive these reports and to give them public airing.

“It shows how pro-active we can be if there is a suggestion that there may be something untoward going on.

“We are always quick to intervene in Hartlepool and the expertise in this area is put to good use.”

Within the six-month period, about 52 per cent of the alleged victims of abuse or neglect were under the age of 65.

Officers said that was unusual but the reason was down to one suspected case involving 16 individuals, which altered the figures.

Meanwhile, 15 per cent were between the age of 65-79 and 33 per cent were aged 80 or over.

Previously, the team’s work to protect and care for vulnerable adults was praised in May after a national inspection.

The local authority commissioned Local Government Improvement and Development (LGID) to carry out the review.

It found the staff to be “passionate, enthusiastic and committed” and that there was good partnership work in Hartlepool between a range of organisations, including the council, police and health organisations.

But the review also found that there is scope to do more work in relation to domestic violence, hate crime and anti-social behaviour and opportunities for more joint working.