Council survey reveals shock toll of abuse

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Wigan Council conducted more than 1,000 investigations into the safety of vulnerable adults in a 12-month period, exploring allegations of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

An annual safeguarding report released by NHS Digital has shone a light on the nature of the hundreds of concerns and queries raised from April 1 last year to March 2017.

The comprehensive document has revealed that in a 12-month-period 1,985 concerns were raised with the town hall and 1,170 Section 42 safeguarding inquiries were made, a procedure which requires local authority action.

“Safeguarding adults” is the name given to the response “used to protect adults with care and support needs from abuse and neglect.”

In 330 of the 1,170 inquiries, the risk to the victim was allegedly caused by a service provider and a staggering 675 of the concerns raised were regarding a threat posed by someone known to the victim.

The figures have revealed that Wiganers aged over 85 were the most at risk, receiving the most inquiry requests and around a fifth of the inquiries (280) were made about those living in either a nursing or residential care home.

Dozens of inquiries were also made about sexual abuse, with 55 concerns being raised for victims of a sexual crime, 235 for the victim of physical abuse, and 330 for neglect and “acts of omission” which can include anything from ignoring medical or physical needs to withholding the necessities of life such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

According to town hall officials, this tends to be the “highest frequency” so safeguarding can be dealt with to improve services for individuals.

A spokesman for Wigan Safeguarding Adults Board said: “We proactively encourage individuals and the public to report any safeguarding concerns to us if they suspect abuse or neglect is taking place. We will provide information and advice to the person suffering abuse and can help them to make an informed choice about any help they need or action they wish to take.

“We remain committed to tackling abuse and neglect and will continue to work with our partners across the borough to ensure our residents can live safely and free from abuse or the fear of abuse.

“We want to build communities that do not tolerate abuse and work together to prevent it happening.

“The Wigan Adult Safeguarding Board is a multi-agency board that works together to safeguard adults.

“It is in place to ensure robust procedures are in place to identify abuse or inadequate care and to support vulnerable people at risk.”

In 205 of the investigations, a risk was identified but no action was taken to minimise or remove the risk.

According to a council spokesperson, this is often a result of the “victim” of a safeguarding query themselves asking the authority not to pursue it or that there is no wider risk to others or that it is not “in the public interest” to do so.

Town hall officials have also confirmed that all sexual abuse allegations are dealt with as a “matter of urgency in line with safeguarding processes”. Any procedures resulting from a sexual abuse inquiry would involve the police “at the outset” and as part of any ongoing investigation.

Despite the figures, Wigan still remains well above the national average for “good” care homes following Care Quality Commission inspection.
Eighty per cent of Wigan care homes are rated “good” compared the national average of 66 per cent.