Leeds council concern as adult safeguarding referrals in city reach new record levels
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More than 13,500 referrals were made to the city’s authorities between April 2022 and March 2023, up by 36 per cent from 2018/19.
Most of the referrals related to fears a vulnerable adult was either being neglected, physically abused or financially exploited.
The National Care Association said the rise was “extremely concerning” and that the staffing crisis in the sector offered context for the problems facing the system.
The figures were published in a report due to go before Leeds City Council’s adults and health scrutiny board on Tuesday.
In a lot of cases, safeguarding referrals do not lead to any further action, because they can be made after accidents, such as a fall in someone’s home, or incidents where there is no foul play involved.
But around a quarter resulted in a Section 42 investigation being carried out by the local authority, where there is reasonable grounds to suspect an adult is at risk of harm or abuse.
Nadra Ahmed, the chairman of the National Care Association, said: “It’s extremely concerning that there’s a rise.
“Any safeguarding alert has to be taken seriously. It doesn’t matter what it is.
“We have to be clear about some of the challenges facing the sector. It’s certainly not an excuse, but the backdrop is the fact we have this really challenging workforce crisis, in the aftermath of the Covid years.”
Ms Ahmed added: “You can’t underestimate the complexity of the conditons the care sector is now dealing with.
“Many of them are much more complex than the social care system was set up to cope with.”
Last year’s referral figures for Leeds are an increase of around 1,000 from the previous year, 2021/22, which itself had seen a record high.
Speaking earlier this year about the 2021/22 figures, the independent chair of Leeds’ adult safeguarding board said the rise was a “good thing”, as it showed people had confidence reporting into the system.
Addressing local councillors in February, Richard Jones said: “I don’t think there’s a position we’d get to where we’d say we’ve maxed out on our ability to enable people to speak up, often in very difficult circumstances.”