‘At risk’ and in Glasgow: Number of cases soar

THE number of vulnerable adults being reported to social services as “at risk” is rising, it was revealed today.

Both Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils are seeing hundreds more cases every year.

Glasgow City Council said that in the past three years the number of vulnerable adults being reported as being at risk of harm has more than doubled, from 1200 in 2009/10 to 2633 in 2011/12.

Similarly Renfrewshire Council, which has been behind a high-profile drive to encourage people to report concerns over adults at risk, says referrals are up almost 1000% since 2008, rising from 153 that year to 1549 last year.

Councils class a vulnerable adult as someone who is older than 16 and in danger of being harmed or abused because they have a disability, an illness or a physical or mental condition which incapacitates them.

Renfrewshire has been recruiting other councils to back a campaign of raising awareness over the issues vulnerable adults can face and how they can be helped.

The chairman of the independent Renfrewshire Adult Protection Comm-ittee, Tim Huntingford, says more work needs to be done to protect adults.

He hopes that new laws will help reach people who would otherwise be at risk and under the radar.

Mr Huntingford said: “Child protection is well rooted in the public consc-iousness, and the police inquiries into the activities of Jimmy Savile have moved child abuse to the top of the media agenda.

“The Adult Support and Protection Act only came into force in October 2008 and adult protection doesn’t yet have the same profile.

“However, there are many adults who are just as vulnerable as children.

“The most striking development of the past two years has been the growing acceptance of the concept that sometimes adults need protection too.

“The number of referrals has continued to increase as knowledge and understanding of the vulnerability of many people in our communities has grown.

“One example of this has been the rising number of cases highlighting the financial exploitation visited on vulnerable people, most commonly by their relatives.

“About 10% of all the Adult Protection referrals in Renfrewshire are because of suspected financial abuse. While we have achieved a great deal over the last two years there remains a lot to be done.

“The level of knowledge of abuse and neglect among adults is still too low and victims often don’t receive the understanding that they need and deserve.”

Councillor Iain McMillan, Renfrewshire’s community and family care convener, said: “Renfrewshire Coun-cil has been working hard over the past two years to highlight the problems faced by vulnerable adults.

“We have taken the lead in organising national TV advertising campaigns designed to make the public more aware of the issues.

“Vulnerable children draw an immediate response but vulnerable adults, who may be at risk because of substance abuse, mental health issues or dementia, often aren’t treated with the same sympathy.

“Our aim is to change those attitudes and prom-ote the message that every member of our community, old or young, is due our help, consideration and protection.”

Hard-hitting TV advert-ising campaigns about how to report adults at risk ran in March and August 2011 and February last year.

The campaigns aimed to raise awareness about the verbal, physical and sexual abuse suffered by thous-ands of adults every day – all too often at the hands of their own families. The adverts highlighted the financial abuse of the elderly, the day-to-day abuse suffered by adults with learning disabilities and how long-term alcohol abuse can affect a person’s ability to look after themselves.

Scots councils which have backed the campaigns now include Glasgow, East Ayrshire, East Dunbar-tonshire, East Renfrew-shire, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, North Lanark-shire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, and West Dunbartonshire.

The city figures from the Glasgow Adult Protection Committee acknowledged that growing awareness of adult protection procedures could have led to greater confidence among staff and the public to contact social work with concerns.

However, the report also said more work was required to be certain about the reasons for the rising trend.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “We fully support the campaign to raise awareness of adult protection procedures.

“Measures exist to ensure the well-being of individuals is protected.

“If anyone has concerns over a vulnerable adult they should contact social work services.”