UK & World News
'Disturbing' Rise In Elderly Abuse Reports
There has been a "disturbing" rise in the number of reports of suspected abuse of vulnerable older people, a charity has warned.
Analysis of data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showed that there was a 4% rise in the number of cases of alleged abuse referred for investigation in the past year.
English councils referred 112,000 cases of alleged abuse against vulnerable adults for investigation in 2012/13, up from 108,000 during the previous year.
Physical abuse and neglect were the most common types of abuse reported, and care workers and family were the most likely alleged abusers, according to the figures.
Charity Age UK called on ministers to ensure that vulnerable adults are given the "best possible protection" against it.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "These numbers are disturbing: even though growing awareness of the abuse of older people is likely to have contributed to the increase in the number of safeguarding concerns reported to and taken forward by English councils, they concern some of the most vulnerable people in our society, many of whom feel that they have no-one to turn to for help.
"Any abuse of older people is unacceptable and we need a zero-tolerance approach to any abuse, whether through neglect, financial manipulation or physical or mental cruelty.
"Our biggest fear is that there are still many cases that are not reported and we would encourage anyone who suspects that an older person is being abused to contact their social services department or the police straight away."
A Department of Health spokesman said: "No one should suffer abuse or neglect in a place they are meant to feel safe in, whether this is in their own home or in a care setting.
"It is encouraging that people are coming forward and making allegations where they have concerns because it allows the police, councils and the regulators to investigate them swiftly and robustly, as they must.
"But we also need to make sure everything possible is done to protect people from abuse wherever it might take place.
"This is why we have introduced a new Chief Inspector for Social Care who will hold local areas to account for abuse. We are also currently considering new measures to make directors of care homes and hospitals that allow neglect and abuse to take place personally and criminally accountable for failures in care."
:: People can call the Age UK advice line on 0800 1696565 if they need advice on what to do if they suspect an older person is being abused.