Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Safeguarding statistics and adults with learning disabilities - a quick update

Following some recent conversations on twitter, this post provides a quick update on what national statistics tell us about how many adults with learning disabilities are involved in Section 42 safeguarding processes in England (again NHS Digital produce annual reports about these statistics).

The first thing to say is that much less information is reported publicly about safeguarding specifically for adults with learning disabilities than previously, mainly due to concerns about the quality of the information (these are still officially 'experimental statistics'). This also means that there have been a few changes to how the information has been collected from 2010/11 to 2016/17, so it's hard to draw strong conclusions about changes over time.

The first graph below shows how many adults with learning disabilities (vs how many other adults in total) have been recorded in the safeguarding statistics over time. In 2016/17 there were 14,890 adults with learning disabilities involved in safeguarding enquiries across England, a slight uptick from 14,815 people in 2015/16. Although it's hard to draw strong conclusions about trends over time, in general the number of safeguarding enquiries involving adults with learning disabilities has been going down while the number of safeguarding enquiries involving other adults has been going up. We can see this from the fact that in 2010/11 21% of all safeguarding enquiries involved adults with learning disabilities; by 2016/17 this had dropped to 14% of all safeguarding enquiries.



I will leave it to others who know much more about safeguarding than me to offer interpretations (is that uptick a blip or the start of a more general increase?), but there is one more graph I want to show that speaks to how consistent safeguarding processes are across England. The graph below simply shows the safeguarding rate for adults with learning disabilities per 100,000 adult population in each local authority, ordered from the lowest to the highest rate. The variation in safeguarding rates across local authorities looks extreme to me - why is this, and what consequences does this have for people with learning disabilities and others around them?


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