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7,884 ‘safeguarding concerns’ reported in 2016

This information, for 2016, represents the first year of data collection by the SPTs who were established following the publication of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse National Policy and Procedures (2014). These teams are tasked with managing safeguarding concerns relating primarily to persons with a disability and people over 65 years who are deemed vulnerable.

The data collated for 2016 shows that there was a total of 7,884 safeguarding concerns managed by the SPTs; 4,749 relate to adults aged 18-64 years, 3,029 relate to adults over 65 years and of these 1,221 were over 80 years. Full data report is available on www.hse.ie/safeguarding

Key trends emerging included that alleged physical abuse is highest in males aged 18-64; alleged sexual abuse is highest in females 18-64 but also represents an issue for younger males; and alleged financial abuse is highest for males across all age categories with the highest level in those over 80 years.

Alleged neglect increases with age, with the highest level reported in females over 80

According to the HSE, the figures show that there is a clear framework developed in the past two years to support staff in recognising and responding appropriately to concerns of abuse.

Concerns came from a wide variety of sources with voluntary agencies (38 per cent) included in over 400 services reporting safeguarding concerns in 2016.

The system of recognising, responding and reporting concerns of abuse towards vulnerable adults does not have a legislative basis in this jurisdiction. Whilst the HSE is currently reviewing the policy to consider areas for improvement, it is clear from operational feedback that there are limitations and challenges to work effectively in this area without a legislative basis and framework. The HSE welcomes recent developments to enact legislation in the safeguarding field.

Mr Tim Hanly, General Manager, HSE National Safeguarding Office, commented: “The publication of these figures shows the development of a strong process and system to recognise and report abuse. There is a zero tolerance approach to abuse that has made a positive difference. We recently carried out a staff survey completed by over 1,400 staff who voiced strong confidence in the human rights principles underpinning this policy. These overall figures may appear to be high but the key issue is that we have appropriate systems in place to prevent abuse in the first place and people are supported when they raise concerns.”

A full contact listing of the HSE SPT teams can be downloaded from the HSE website on the following link, www.hse.ie/safeguarding or by contacting the National Safeguarding Office on 061-461358.

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