Saturday, 7 November 2015

Chocolate fireguards

Sorry – more new depressing statistics relating to social care and people with learning disabilities to share with you. This relates to the Safeguarding Adults Return – from 2013/14 the successor to the Abuse of Vulnerable Adults datasets (such charming titles). These basically report the number of people referred to social services for safeguarding reasons relating to different types of potential abuse, who made the referral, who the alleged perpetrator was, the nature of the alleged abuse, whether the alleged abuse was substantiated, and what (if anything) happened as a result.

Up to 2012/13, information breaking all these things down specifically for people with learning disabilities was publicly available. A full report on this information is available in this extremely long report (Section 9 ) with an easy read summary here ( ).

From 2013/14, the only publicly available information broken down specifically for people with learning disabilities is the number of people where a safeguarding referral was made, and whether people were previously known to the council or not. The graph below shows the number of people with learning disabilities and the number of other people where a safeguarding referral was made, from 2010/11 to 2014/15.

As you can see, the number of people with learning disabilities with safeguarding referrals has dropped from a peak of 21,985 people referred in 2011/12 to 15,715 people referred in 2014/15 – a drop of 29% in three years. In the same timeframe, the number of other people referred has increased slightly.

And in 2014/15, only 8% of people with learning disabilities referred were previously unknown to the council (it was 14% of people with learning disabilities referred the year before), compared to 20% of other people referred.

So, at the same time as people with learning disabilities are starting to disappear from official sight and services are being withdrawn, is any spotlight on potential abuse also starting to turn elsewhere?

Reassured? As my nana didn’t used to say, “Christopher, you’re about as much use as a chocolate fireguard”. 


  1. How interesting What do you suspect is happening Chris? I doubt fewer people are being abused, but less abuse is reported. Why? Is it under-reported now? was it over-reported in the past? Personal anecdotal experience suggests that Council, to whom abuse needs to be reported were not very interested in abuse of people outside funded services. Not sure why, possibly because acknowledging abuse then meant another person who needed services. Abuse and neglect of people with milder disabilities was particularly problematic because social services had no real solutions. Twice I was asked to admit a person on section to an (out of area) hospital because of the risks posed by an alleged abuser. I didn't do it but it is interesting that I was even asked. There was also a bit of gamesmanship going on, using the safeguarding process as a stick with which to beat providers who the LA commissioners had other problems with, to do with funding or contracts not abuse. I retired in 2013 so my anecdotes may or may not suggest things that might be happening now. Interested to know how this could be explored though.

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