Huge rise in number of alerts over suspected abuse or neglect of vulnerable adults in Leeds

The Leeds skyline. Picture by Glen Minikin/
The Leeds skyline. Picture by Glen Minikin/
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The number of safeguarding alerts over adults who are at risk of neglect or abuse in Leeds has risen by almost a third in the last year.

Leeds organisations responded to 4,951 safeguarding concerns in 2014/15 – up from just over 3,750 the year previous – leading to 940 investigations and hundreds of claims that were deemed to prove abuse or neglect “on the balance of probabilities”.

Following the successful ‘Doing Nothing Is Not An Option’ awareness campaign, a report to today’s Leeds City Council health scrutiny board put the figures down to an “increasing awareness of safeguarding adults within the city”.

The findings from the Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board (LSAB), which formed in April, follow work in trying to protect vulnerable people, such as the elderly and disabled, from being abused physically, mentally or through other means like fraud or exploitation.

Coun Peter Gruen, scrutiny board chair, said there was “a lot to celebrate” in the report but was critical of its omission of the lessons from the Jimmy Savile scandal and the LSAB’s lack of ethnic minority representation at board level.

He said: “It runs so contrary to the philosophy and the ethos of the council. We will not reduce inequality unless it comes from the top.”

Richard Jones, the chair of the LSAB, insisted that the board will work to ensure it “understands the experiences of the communities of Leeds” and would ensure the Savile “learning is applied”.

The council’s director of adult social care, Cath Roff, said: “We want safeguarding to be very person-centred on an individual and strategic level.”

The LSAB’s report set out key priorities for 2015/16 to reduce the risk of abuse, raise awareness of safeguarding, support at-risk adults and learn from people’s experiences. It will publish a three-year strategy in June.

The board consists of members from organisations including the police, council, NHS organisations, prison service and third sector.