Concerns about vulnerable people in Doncaster raise by 31% in just one year

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The number of safeguarding alerts about vulnerable adults in Doncaster has gone up by almost a third in a year.

A report submitted to Doncaster councillors also shows the increase in concerns registered by the local authority has increased almost four-fold over a period of four years - from 225 in 2009 to 809 last year.

Greater public awareness of safeguarding issues has led to the increase, say experts.

Doncaster Safeguarding Adult Partnership Board’s annual report shows the number of alerts continues to increase year-on-year and has risen from 615 in 2012-13 to 809 in 2013-14 - an increase of over 31 per cent.

In contrast the number of referrals - the indicator of more serious problems - has fallen from 584 last year to 427 - a decrease of 27 per cent - for the year to March 2014.

The majority of alerts and referrals are among vulnerable adults aged 18-64 said to have a learning disability.

One theory is that they are people who are more vulnerable in situations where they may be befriending strangers or misinterpreting social situations, which exposes them to abuse or potential abuse.

The report says Doncaster also has a number of large care providers which offer placements to people with learning disabilities, which has a significant impact on the number of alerts and referrals received.

Nearly 56 per cent of referrals are among vulnerable adults aged 65 and over, often associated with those cited as having physical disability, frailty or sensory impairment, and this is predominantly linked to the large proportion of service users living in care settings.

Adults at risk may be abused by a wide range of people including relatives and family members, professional staff, care workers, volunteers, other service users, neighbours, friends, and associates, people who deliberately exploit vulnerable people, and strangers.

Doncaster partnership agencies and the Care Quality Commission hold Joint Safeguarding Risk and Quality meetings on a monthly basis to share intelligence, monitor themes and trends, and manage risk to proactively prevent abuse and respond appropriately and proportionately to safeguarding concerns.

The group has developed a ‘risk tool’ to manage and respond to risk applying a consistent approach to risk management.

In Doncaster a Safeguarding Adults alert is where a safeguarding concern is received that does not meet the threshold for a Safeguarding Adults investigation, but may require signposting to a different service or a different response is required other than Safeguarding investigation. It is only when the threshold is met will an alert translate into referral for investigation.

Dave Hamilton, Doncaster’s director of adults, health and wellbeing, said: “We actively encourage any reports relating to adult safeguarding. An unprecedented level of public awareness about this issue nationally has also helped create an climate where people in Doncaster feel empowered to come forward and raise concerns with us.”