Most people only think about something like adult protection when it affects them or a loved one, it's not an issue that usually comes to mind until its needed.

But when it is needed there is an assumption that the response will be at least on par with child protection, with robust intervention that stops the abuse and protects the individual. Unfortunately, it is a false assumption because adult protection is not like that at all. Recent analysis of the statistics about last year tells us a number of worrying things:

Firstly, it's a postcode lottery as to whether you will get intervention at all. Where you live will dictate whether or not you are told that your situation meets the criteria for protection. This conversion rate (how many concerns notified to a local authority get turned into an investigation) is as low as 10% in some areas - that's only 1 in every 10 referrals that gets investigated - or as high a 100% elsewhere i.e. every concern results in an investigation.

So, it all depends on where you live. Twenty-two local authorities responded to 20% or less of what was reported to them. Conversely, there were ten local authorities who investigated each and every concern brought to their attention.  This level of variation is unacceptable and cannot be explained by local demography or similar explanations. It suggests as many as 211.750 concerns would have been investigated if the victims had simply lived elsewhere in England. Could you imagine child protection being run like that?

Now, do bear in mind that these are statistics provided by the Local Authorities themselves as part of a mandatory statutory return, published by NHS Digital. They don't come from us. We have just put them in a table. And to be fair we have collated both statutory s42 enquiries and 'other safeguarding enquiries' together, and still the situation is appalling.

If you want to see how responsive your local authority is in terms of adult protection then download our spreadsheet here The variation across local authorities is truly shocking.

Secondly, even where an investigation has occurred, there is only a one in four chance that the action taken will be sufficient to remove the risk to the victim. In only 26% of cases in 2016-17 (21,925 out of a total of 84,635) was the identified risk actually removed by adult protection intervention. Risk was said to have ‘reduced’ (to what extent is unclear) in a further 61% of cases, while in 13% of cases risk remained – presumably at the same level as before.

Now, there is no doubt that intervening to protect adults is challenging and there are going to be some situations where the victim themselves may resist actions that protect, or where circumstances make it very difficult, but only 1 in 4 instances of success? How much of those failures are down to a lack of actual powers to intervene. The Care Act gave nothing new in terms of protective measures, so are we now seeing the consequences?

There is a lot of hard work going into Adult Protection in England, and there are a lot of very committed people working on protection. But the system is not up to the job. When 211.750 referrals did not get an investigative response, but would have done if the victims lived elsewhere, something is wrong. When three quarters of interventions don't stop the abuse, something is wrong.

And when no statutory organisation - not the Department of Health, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services or the Local Government Association - has seen fit to even comment on these latest figures, something is definitely wrong.

Could it be the simple fact that this situation primarily affects older people - around 63% of all enquiries are consistently about people over the age of 65 years - that explains the lack of investment and the lack of interest?

What do you think? 

Read our Report here.


Previous blogs:

CQC - the State of Social Care