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Last year there were over 800 new safeguarding adult referrals in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, an increase of 17% in the previous year and an increase of 245% over the past six years.
It is, however, important to recognise that this increase is not necessarily due to more incidents taking place, but is also likely to be a result of greater awareness of what constitutes abuse and an increased willingness of people to make alerts.
Now, a powerful new DVD produced by local film maker and former Royal Marine Mark Hewitt and featuring some of the vulnerable adults in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly who have experienced abuse is being released this week as part of a campaign to encourage people to say something if they suspect someone is being abused or neglected.
Of the 800 new safeguarding referrals made last year 55% involved older people, with almost a quarter concerning people over 85 years - a particularly worrying statistic as this group represents only 3.7% of the total adult population of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
20% of the new cases involved people with a learning disability. Although there is not an accurate figure for the number of people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with learning disabilities, national data suggests around 2.3% of the population has severe, moderate or mild learning disabilities.
36% of last year's cases of alleged abuse in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly involved physical abuse, 35% involved psychological abuse and 25% financial abuse.
Following investigation 58% of the cases were either fully or partially substantiated. This lead to increased monitoring of the victims in 45% of cases, support for victims in managing their finances in 15% of cases and a change of home or service in 8% of cases.
Police action was taken in 13% of cases, resulting in criminal prosecutions in 2% of cases.
The advice for anyone who is experiencing abuse or neglect themselves or who suspects someone else is being abused is to try and contact someone they trust such as a friend, family member, carer, doctor or nurse, a social worker or member of the police.
This person would then make a safeguarding alert.
Anyone who does not have someone they can talk to should phone the special unit set up to handle safeguarding alerts on 0300 1234 131
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