CAMPAIGNERS say a 700 per cent rise in reports of suspected abuse of the elderly and vulnerable in North Yorkshire is “horrendous”, but a sign the battle to raise awareness is working.
In the year to April 2013 there were 2,700 reports of suspected abuse compared to 383 in 2008/9.
Just over a quarter of those initial reports led to further action.
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North Yorkshire County Council’s safeguarding team says the numbers should be seen as a positive because of the huge amounts of work done to raise awareness.
Councillor Shelagh Marshall, North Yorkshire’s Older People’s Champion, said: ”The figures are horrendous, but we have to put them into context.
"More people are coming forward and reporting concerns and we need to raise more awareness about this.
“People need to feel safe in their own homes and in care homes. Trading Standards have done a fabulous job of making people realise what is happening with builders and fraudsters, elderly people need to know who they can go to on safeguarding issues.”
The majority of the reports were made by staff in residential care homes (37 per cent); social care staff (12 per cent); police and health services (27 per cent) with just four per cent of complaints made by individuals, family, neighbours and friends.
The Adult Services safeguarding team launched a series of zero tolerance campaigns, calling on people to report any concerns they have and appealing to people who suspect an elderly person is being abused to call.
A spokesman said: "The 2008-09 figure was extremely low compared to the national average and given the population of North Yorkshire.
"Since that time a great deal of work has been undertaken in relation to training internal and external staff. We have also run campaigns on a regular basis to ensure that we have good awareness across the safeguarding partnership.
“It is important that we promote a culture where anyone with a concern can make an alert to the local authority and this should be seen positively rather than negatively.
"It shows that people are taking responsibility for the services they provide or work within or as equally important their own communities."
The figures were revealed at a meeting of the County Council’s Hambleton Area Committee.
In that area more than 700 initial reports were made, with 250 referred for further investigation. A total of 33 per cent were either substantiated or partly substantiated.
To report suspected abuse call the safeguarding team on 08450349410, or outside office hours 08450349417. More information is on the Council’s website www.northyorks.gov.uk.