Elderly abuse reports not investigated in Cambridgeshire, warns charity

Action on Elder Abuse says Cambridgeshire only investigates 14 per cent of reports into elder abuse.

Action on Elder Abuse says Cambridgeshire only investigates 14 per cent of reports into elder abuse. - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire is among the bottom 10 areas in the country for acting on elderly abuse concerns, a new study has revealed.

Of those reported to the county council only one in seven prompt an investigation.

A ‘postcode lottery’ has developed across England, with the chance of receiving an abuse investigation varying dramatically, according to the study.

Action on Elder Abuse (AEA), a UK-wide charity that exists to combat abuse against older people, analysed official adult safeguarding statistics and found that Cambridgeshire was one of the 10 councils least likely to launch a protection inquiry when abuse is suspected.

Stephen McCarthy, Action on Elder Abuse’s Director for England, said: “Too many people who are old, frail and in vulnerable situations appear to be left to fend for themselves in abusive or neglectful situations and this must stop. At the moment, we appear to have an illusion of protection.

“The Care Act should have been a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that older and other vulnerable people who were victims of abuse would have somewhere to turn to find safety.

“Instead, the official reporting statistics paint a picture of a ‘postcode lottery’ of disjointed, variable practice across England which suggests that whether or not you are kept safe from abuse can be almost entirely down to where in the country you happen to live.”

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The charity says 7,505 concerns reported to Cambridgeshire would have been investigated if the abuse victims had simply lived in another part of England.

Stephen said: “If the 7,505 concerns not investigated by Cambridgeshire had occurred in another part of England they would have received a more positive response, and this cannot be right.

“Directors of Adult Social Services and those responsible for adult safeguarding need to take immediate responsibility for this situation and address these inadequacies as a matter of urgency.

Cambridgeshire County Council is failing to carry out a safeguarding inquiry in response to almost nine in 10 warnings about abuse of vulnerable adults, they warned.

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: “The council strongly promotes the reporting of any concerns regarding vulnerable people who may be subject to abuse.

“To respond to these referrals, we have established a multi-agency safeguarding hub involving council and police professionals. Members of this team carefully work through these cases to determine the appropriate response.

“Not every report of a safeguarding concern will require a formal investigation, which can be very stressful for the person that may need protection.

“In Cambridgeshire, we strongly believe in putting the vulnerable person first when it comes to safeguarding and using a range of approaches to help resolve the issue in a way that meets their needs and supporting their choices.

“A wide range of cases are referred to us and these can be very simple or very complex. Whether a formal investigation or other intervention is needed we make sure it is thorough and robust. Where a safeguarding intervention isn’t required we will flag up services that can help them with any issues they are facing.”