NUMBERS of alerts to the authorities of potential abuse of elderly, disabled or vulnerable adults have fallen, according to a report by the Bradford Safeguarding Adults Board.

However, independent chairman Jonathan Phillips said while the figures showed a five per cent drop there was no room for complacency.

Concerns processed in 2016-17 totalled 3,279, compared to slightly more than 3,500 in the previous 12 months.

“We still have to receive the national figures in order to compare fully with last year,” said Mr Phillips.

“Five per cent is not a huge amount and the fact they are less does not necessarily mean we have reached a plateau. We need to check to see whether there are other reasons for the reduction, such as people not being aware of safeguarding support.

“One area where safeguarding figures are low is among minority ethnic groups. They may not be aware of the support and this is something we need to check and address.”

Councillor Val Slater, Bradford Council's portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said that while a reduction in reports was welcome, there may be other areas where people were becoming vulnerable which were not being reported.

She said: “We need to be aware of a change of focus on the elderly and vulnerable particularly around financial issues, such as cold-calling and scams. It is an area of concern for me and I want to highlight to people that they must be aware of these things.”

In line with section 42 of the Care Act, a safeguarding inquiry is instigated where a local authority has reasonable cause to suspect that an adult in its area has needs for care and support, is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, and as a result of those needs is unable to protect themselves against abuse, neglect or the risk of it.

In such cases the local authority must make inquiries and review all the available information.

The report shows the source of inquiries are varied and as in previous years the highest proportion are made by social and health care staff.

Of the 3,279 reports brought forward, 714 progressed to a safeguarding inquiry.

Of these, 436 were made in respect of male victims and 278 female victims.

The majority of the inquiries came from social care or health staff, while the remaining figures were made up of family members, police, neighbours and friends, education, self referral and the Care Quality Commission.

Types of abuse recorded were neglect (31 per cent) physical (22 per cent) psychological (18 per cent) financial (18 per cent) sexual (four per cent) and discrimination (one per cent).

More than half of the “sources of harm” reported were associated with staff (52 per cent). 36 per cent of reports involved someone known to the victim and 12 per cent were about someone unknown to the victim.

The report states: “Nationally, in previous years, the trend was reversed, with more family members/friends being reported as the source of harm.

“In the Bradford district the focus of safeguarding adults work has been mainly on care providers and staff.”

Mr Phillips said:”We hope to have the full national reports soon and will be able to compare them with the figures we have obtained. The details will be passed to partner organisations and sub groups.”