Hartlepool’s shame as hundreds of vulnerable people suffer abuse

Some of Hartlepool's most vulnerable people are being abused.
Some of Hartlepool's most vulnerable people are being abused.

CARE chiefs investigate an average of 10 cases a month of potential abuse against some of the most vulnerable people in Hartlepool, according to new figures.

Protection officers at Hartlepool Borough Council closely examined a total of 86 reports of abuse between last April and December.

We are committed to protecting vulnerable adults

Jill Harrison, Hartlepool Borough Council

Almost half related to people aged over 65 with a physical disability.

The majority of reported abuse was alleged to have happened in care homes and neglect was the chief type of abuse identified. Paid workers were the main perpetrators of alleged the abuse followed by relatives or other family members.

Ten people have been subject to disciplinary action and one residential care home worker was sacked.

The council was alerted to 310 possible cases of abuse between April 1 and December 31 last year.

That is up compared to the same time last year when there were 247 alerts.

But fewer allegations met the level for further investigation at 86 this year compared to the previous year when 103 reports met the safeguarding adults threshold guide.

It comes after the Mail reported how a probe into care homes connected with jailed boss Matt Matharu found failings at Admiral Court in Hartlepool.

The Care Quality Commission probe has recommended that seven residents from the home be moved.

Referring to the figures, Jill Harrison, the council’s assistant director of adult services, said: “The council is committed to protecting vulnerable adults, so it is always a concern when potential abuse is reported.

“But we would also be concerned if abuse was not being reported and appropriately investigated.

“In accordance with the [national] guidance set out in No Secrets we actively encourage people with a genuine concern about the wellbeing of a vulnerable adult to report the matter and we will make further enquiries to understand the extent of the problem and thereafter determine how best to provide support to individuals, often working with other agencies such as the police and the NHS.”

Each case of possible abuse reported to the council is assessed according to its severity, intent of the alleged abuser and risk of repeated abuse, in deciding whether to investigate a further.

Out of the 86 referred for further investigation 21 are currently ongoing.

Of the 65 completed cases, 27 were confirmed or partly confirmed.

Nineteen were not proved and a further 19 were inconclusive.

They included cases of theft where it was not possible to say who was responsible.

The council says no investigations to date for 2014-15 have led to a court prosecution.

Hartlepool council has a dedicated safeguarding team including a designated safeguarding officer and specialist investigation officers who take the lead on protecting vulnerable adults.

The council also works with key partners on the Tees-wide Safeguarding Adults Board.

Ms Harrison added: “We will continue to work with all partners to ensure that vulnerable adults in Hartlepool are protected and that any concerns regarding possible abuse are investigated in a timely way.”

If you are worried about potential abuse against a vulnerable person, contact the council on (01429) 523390.