New data reveals over half a million concerns of suspected abuse of adults rising 9% in last year

More than half a million safeguarding concerns about the suspected abuse of adults were raised during 2021-22 – up nine per cent in a year, figures have shown.

An estimated 541,535 reports were raised to or by councils in England about the suspected abuse of adults between April 2021 and March 2022, according to data published by NHS Digital.

This represents an above average rise of nine per cent from the previous year and is the first time the number of annual concerns raised has topped half a million.

Safeguarding concerns can include cases of physical, sexual, financial and domestic abuse, sexual exploitation, modern slavery and self-neglect.

If councils believe an adult with care and support needs is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, and is unable to protect themselves due to these needs, they must carry out an inquiry under section 42 of the 2014 Care Act.

Local authorities carried out an estimated 161,952 inquiries concerning 129,685 people in the year ending March 2022.

This is an annual rise of six per cent, a number similar to that seen in 2019-20, following a dip in 2020-21.

Of the section 42 inquiries that concluded over the year, neglect and acts of omission accounted for 31% of the risks (64,330 inquiries).

This was followed by physical abuse (39,000 inquiries) and psychological abuse (28,280 inquiries).

The most common location for the risk was the person’s own home (48% – 75,490 inquiries), followed by residential care homes (36,010 inquiries).

People aged 85 and over were much more likely to be the subject of an inquiry than those aged between 18 and 64.

There were 2,479 individuals aged 85 and over involved in safeguarding inquiries per 100,000 of that age group, compared with 148 adults per 100,000 aged 18-64.

In nine out of 10 inquiries, the identified risk was reduced or removed.

The figures are based on data provided by 151 out of 152 councils with adult social care responsibility.

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