Increase in harm referrals seen as positive for Dundee social work service

A total of 195 vulnerable adults were referred to social workers in Dundee in the first nine months of last year amid concerns they were being harmed.

The vast majority of people were at risk in their own homes and many were dependent for their care on the person accused of harming them.

One woman with learning difficulties was subjected to sexual and financial harm, a situation that was “suspected to be going on for some years,” according to a report before Dundee Community Health Partnership meeting in King’s Cross Hospital.

A sheriff granted a protection order described as “a full banning order with a condition of power of arrest” in relation to the perpetrator, who was known to the woman.

A protection order was granted “for similar circumstances” in relation to another woman with learning disabilities, whose situation was described as “not as severe” as the woman for whom the full banning order was granted.

Data relating to the vulnerable adult protection concerns reported to the council’s social work department is contained in a report by Professor James Hogg, independent convener of the City of Dundee Adult Support and Protection (ASP) Committee.

It showed adult protection concerns were reported in relation to 195 individuals during the first nine months of last year. The largest age group was those over 65 and the most common cause for concern was described as “physical and financial harm.”

The ASP committee was established in 2008 and has representatives from a number of local agencies, including NHS Tayside and Dundee City Council, concerned with the protection of vulnerable adults.

Prof Hogg was not present at the meeting at King’s Cross. His report was presented by Laura Bannerman, council manager for community services, who is a member of the ASP committee.

“The majority of people we are dealing with are older people, followed by those with learning disabilities,” she said.

“Most of the instances that occur that require to be investigated and followed up are occurring in people’s own homes.”

She said referrals were “picking up” and that was positive, in that it showed more people were becoming aware of people at risk and reporting concerns to the authorities.

“More situations are being referred to us,” she said. “We don’t see this as a failure but see this as a success of people drawing situations to our attention for further action.”

Dundee City Council’s director of social work said the protection of vulnerable adults was everyone’s concern.

“The whole population in the city needs to be aware this exists and know what to do when they see somebody vulnerable and maybe subject to harm,” he said.

Part of the work of the ASP committee is to raise awareness of vulnerable adults who may be at risk of harm.