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Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults

Headlines

  • Up to the end of March 2016, there were 415 children in Kirklees who have a child protection plan. The Kirklees rate (42.2 per 10,000) is slightly lower than nationally (42.9 per 10,000). There are 2522 children in need in Kirklees. The Kirklees rate (256.4 per 10,000) is lower than the national rate (337.3 per 10,000).
  • Neglect has taken over from emotional abuse as the main form of abuse experienced by children in Kirklees.
  • Abuse and neglect of anyone is intolerable, especially of children and vulnerable adults.
  • The majority of adult abuse notifications concerned older people and people with learning disabilities. Of the substantiated cases of adult abuse over half were due to neglect.
  • Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. All staff who have direct or indirect contact with children, families and vulnerable adults, or who have access to information about them, have a responsibility to safeguard and promote their welfare.

Why is this issue important?

The maltreatment of children – physically, emotionally, sexually or through neglect – can have major long-term effects on all aspects of a child’s health, development and wellbeing. The immediate and longer term impact can include anxiety, depression, substance misuse, eating disorders and self-destructive behaviours, offending and anti-social behaviour(1). Abuse is likely to have a deep impact on the child’s self-image and self-esteem, and on his or her future life. Difficulties may extend into adulthood: the experience of long-term abuse may lead to difficulties in forming or sustaining close relationships, establishing stability, getting into in work, and to extra difficulties in developing the attitudes and skills necessary to be an effective parent.

It is not only the stressful events of maltreatment that have an impact, but also the context in which they take place. Often, it is the interaction between a number of factors that increases the likelihood or level of harm.

The experience of abuse and neglect is likely to have a significant impact on an adult’s health and wellbeing. By its very nature, abuse – the misuse of power by one person over another – has a large impact on a person’s independence, and their ability to exercise choice and control over the fundamental aspects of their life and causing humiliation and loss of dignity.

The high cost of abuse and neglect, both to individuals and to society, underpins the duty on all agencies to be proactive in safeguarding children and adults

There is a duty on organisations to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and vulnerable adults. It is a shared responsibility and effectiveness depends upon commissioning activity, and efficient joint working between agencies to respond to incidents of abuse and neglect. In addition, there is an increasing focus on preventing abuse occurring in the first place. Analysis of information on any potential trends could assist with both prevention and response.

What significant factors are affecting this issue?

Safeguarding children

Children have the right to be protected abuse or exploitation of any kind1. Dealing with and responding to the issues of risk is complex. There are many ways to support vulnerable people. It is only as a last resort that compulsory intervention in family life should be instigated. Both health and social care need to co-ordinate their work to ensure that the family as a whole is supported to achieve the best possible outcomes for children.

The public also have their role to play in identifying issues that may affect the safety or wellbeing of vulnerable people in Kirklees. Bringing issues of risk to the attention of professionals provides further protective factors for vulnerable people.

A child protection plan is the activity undertaken to protect a child who is at risk of significant harm. It sets out in detail what work each of the professionals involved will do and what action family members must take. In 2015/16[1], there 415 children with a child protection plan in Kirklees, this represents 42.2 per 10,000 compared to 42.9 per 10,000 nationally2. The Kirklees rate of children on a plan has increased since 2015 when there were 34.9 per 10,000. There are 2522 children in need in Kirklees, which is 256.4 per 10,000 compared to 337.3 per 10,000 nationally(2).[2] This has reduced since 2015 when the amount of Children in need was 265.7 per 10,000.

Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs and is the most common form of child abuse nationwide(3). Neglect (183 children) has taken over from emotional abuse (150 children) as the main form of abuse experienced by children in Kirklees; Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child that causes severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child (2). Other children are the subject of child protection plans for physical abuse (22 children) and sexual abuse (60 children) (2).

National research has found that almost a quarter of young adults in the UK have witnessed domestic abuse during their childhood and almost 1 in 20 (4.5%) children and young people in the UK have experienced severe forms of domestic abuse. Children were present at the incident in 34.3% of cases in Kirklees. This can have devastating effects on those children. Any domestic violence incidents that we become aware of where children are present are notified to children’s social care for assessment (see domestic abuse section).

Safeguarding adults

Safeguarding means protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action. This must recognise that adults sometimes have complex interpersonal relationships and may be ambivalent, unclear or unrealistic about their personal circumstances(4).

The Safeguarding Adults Return (5) intelligence for 2014-2015 shows that there were 180 cases referred into the formal safeguarding process. This represents 55 per 100,000 of the adult population.

Following investigations, 66% of cases were fully or partially substantiated, 18% were found to be unsubstantiated, and 76% the risk was reduced or removed in 19% of cases no action was taken.

The types of safeguarding issue reported was dominated by incidents of neglect which was the issue in 52% of cases, this was followed by physical abuse in 21% of cases, psychological abuse in 18% of cases, financial abuse in 6% of cases and sexual abuse in 3% of cases. It should be remembered that like all forms of abuse underreporting is a common issue.

The sources of risk was dominated by social care settings with 2in 3 (68%) of cases identifying social care as the source of risk. 1 in 3 (29%) of risk source was from a person known to the individual, and 3% were from a person unknown to the victim.

Where is this causing greatest concern?

Vulnerable people may be at risk anywhere. While sharing common themes of risk, each group or community may also have specific issues. The diversity of Kirklees people means that the workforce must have the necessary skills and resources to be able to identify and provide an appropriate response to all cases where vulnerable children and adults are, or potentially could be, at risk from harm.

We are all responsible for reporting concerns about the welfare of children or vulnerable adults and safeguarding is taken very seriously.  If you suspect that a child or vulnerable adult is at risk of harm from abuse or neglect you can contact Kirklees Council Gateway to Care anonymously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01484 414933.  Alternatively you can text “Gateway” and your question to 07781482931.

What could commissioners and service planners consider?

A key activity is different aspects of the system working together, and recognising they have a common goal that crosses service and professional boundaries. This approach is in its infancy and is being driven by a joint board structure. The diagram lower down try’s to illustrate this relationship (6).

There is also the need for a strong prevention theme is all safeguarding work. Encouraging and supporting those working with vulnerable people to recognise common precursors or risk factors of abuse and develop strategies with individuals to mitigate them would be a positive step.

Figure 1: Diagram from safeguarding adults board (2015)(7)

  • Continue accessible training to give people, especially those staff and volunteers working in settings that mean they are more likely to come into contact with children or vulnerable adults who are at risk of abuse, the skills to identify concerns and how to ensure that appropriate action is taken is crucial, especially in cases of neglect.
  • Ensure the support provided by children’s, adult and family services is co-ordinated and takes account of how individual problems can affect the whole family. Joint commissioning of services to support children affected by neglect, domestic violence, parental alcohol and/or substance misuse will ensure issues are identified quickly.
  • Safeguarding must remain central to our joint health and social care commissioning strategies and other plans for children and young people’s services. 

References

  1. HM Government. Working Together to Safeguard Children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. 2015. Available from: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13561820020003919
  2. Ofsted SIF Data Tool. 2016.
  3. NSPCC. Neglect: What is Neglect? 2016. Available from: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/neglect/
  4. Safeguarding - Care and support statutory guidance - Guidance - GOV.UK. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/care-and-support-statutory-guidance/safeguarding
  5. Kirklees Council. Safeguarding Adults Return. 2014.
  6. Kirklees Council. Kirklees Safeguarding Adults Board Strategic Plan 2015 - 2018. 2015
  7. Kirklees Council Safeguarding Board. Multi Agency Policy, Procedures and Guidance to Safeguard Vulnerable Adults from Abuse in Kirklees. 2015.

[1] Kirklees figures are as at 31/03/16

[2] National figures are as at 31/03/2015

Further information:

Adult Abuse - Summary. Safeguarding Factsheet 1 (2017) A collaborative piece of work produced by Kirklees Safeguarding Adults Board (KSAB), Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board (KSCB) and Community Safety Partnerships (CSP) http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/adult-social-care-providers/pdf/ksab-1-adult-abuse-summary.pdf

If you are concerned that an adult at risk living in Kirklees is being abused you should see Report abuse or neglect of an adult at risk

If you are concerned that an child living in Kirklees is at risk of being abused you should see Concerns about a child

Date this section was last reviewed

22/08/2016