Wales

Vulnerable adult abuse cases in Wales rise by 11%

Clenched fist Image copyright Thinkstock

Investigations into alleged abuse of vulnerable adults in Wales increased by 11% last year, latest figures have revealed.

There were 4,485 completed adult protection referrals in 2015-16, up from 4,040 in 2014-15.

Neglect (36%) and physical abuse (32%) were the most reported cases.

The Welsh Government, which compiled the data, said the rise could be down to better reporting of incidents.

Other types of reported abuse included emotional and psychological, financial and sexual.

The figures showed 65% of investigations were for people aged 65 and over, and 61% were for women.

Nearly 40% of victims who alleged abuse were targeted in their own home, while staff were most likely to be responsible (56%) followed by relatives (23%).

Age Cymru said the figures for those aged 65 and over were "completely unacceptable".

"Elder abuse can happen anywhere - in people's homes, in the street, in shops, in cafes or in care settings," Age Cymru spokesman Iwan Rhys Roberts said.

"It's really important that we're all aware of elder abuse and what it is so that we can report it when we see it happening, or importantly, if we suspect it is taking place."

Welsh Women's Aid said the statistics highlighted "the gendered nature of violence and abuse and the cross over with other equality characteristics such as age and disability".

"It is vital that support services for vulnerable adults are trained to identify domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and have an understanding of the complexities older women and women with disabilities face," a spokeswoman for the charity said.

"Welsh Women's Aid is currently delivering 'Ask and Act' training to health and other public sector professionals that will hopefully help them to identify vulnerable women who are at risk or are experiencing abuse earlier and ensure they are signposted to the specialist support they need."

A Welsh Government spokesman said it would explore the data with partners to establish why there has been a small rise in numbers.

"It could be due to better reporting generally as organisations were preparing for the introduction of the legal 'duty to report' adults at risk in April 2016," he added.

"However, we must remain vigilant and ensure measures are taken to prevent abuse and neglect.

"The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act implemented from last April strengthens arrangements to safeguard children and adults, and this data will be important to take this work forward."

More on this story