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'Too few elder abuse cases' investigated in Cambridgeshire, claims charity

A charity says not enough reports of elder abuse are being investigated in Cambridgeshire. Credit: Press Association.

A charity claims authorities in Cambridgeshire are failing to investigate enough reports of abuse of older people.

Action of Elder Abuse says the county council was among the bottom 10 authorities in the country when it came to acting on concerns - with just 14% of reports leading to a formal investigation.

The charity said reports ranged from beatings and theft to sexual assault and neglect.

Cambridgeshire County Council said it responded to each report in the most appropriate way.

It said it had 8,740 cases referred to it in 2016/17. Of those, 2,335 were deemed to require intervention and 1,235 - or more than half -were dealt with through a formal inquiry.

Where intervention was not thought to be needed, other services and agencies were contacted to provide help and support.

All reports are assessed by the council's "multi-agency safeguarding hub" which includes both council workers and police.

. Credit: Press Association.

"Members of this team carefully work through these cases to determine the appropriate response.

"Not every report of a safeguarding concern will require a formal investigation, which can be very stressful for the person that may need protection.

"In Cambridgeshire, we strongly believe in putting the vulnerable person first when it comes to safeguarding and using a range of approaches to help resolve the issue in a way that meets their needs and supporting their choices."

– Cambridgeshire County Council.

However, Action on Elder Abuse said if the same reports had been made elsewhere in the country, they would have received a more vigorous response.

Across the UK, an average of 41% of complaints are formally investigated.

"The official reporting statistics paint a picture of a 'postcode lottery' of disjointed, variable practice across England which suggests that whether or not you are kept safe from abuse can be almost entirely down to where in the country you happen to live.

"If the 7,505 concerns not investigated by Cambridgeshire had occurred in another part of England they would have received a more positive response, and this cannot be right."

– Stephen McCarthy, Director for England, Acton on Elder Abuse.

The charity called on adult social services departments across the UK to take immediate action and ensure the help available was not only "an illusion of protection".

It is also campaigning for elder abuse to be classed as an aggravated offence, similar to hate crimes, which would mean tougher sentences for anyone convicted.