NEW data released by NHS England has shed light on allegations of abuse and neglect of adults in care settings. 

The data, which comes from NHS England's Safeguarding Adults Collection (SAC), covers the period between April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023 and gives an insight into the number of allegations of abuse and neglect of adults in care in Cornwall. It also shows the nature of the allegations, the number of Section 42 Enquiries made, and the number of risk assessments made and their outcomes. 

Across this period, Cornwall Council made a total of 1,290 enquiries, 1,260 of these being Section 42 Enquiries and 30 other enquiries. The total number of safeguarding concerns recorded in the data was 9,065. 

Section 42 enquiries are investigations triggered by councils when they believe an adult with care and support needs may be experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect. These enquiries can also be conducted for suspected abuse occurring in other settings, such as hospitals or a victim's own home.

The enquiries may address allegations of physical, sexual, psychological, or financial abuse, as well as neglect and substandard care.

The most common risk associated with Cornwall Council's Section 42 Enquiries was that of psychological abuse, with 520 concluded enquiries across the 2022/23 period. Allegations of financial or material abuse were the subject of 430 concluded enquiries and allegations of neglect and acts of omission counted for 355 of the concluded enquiries. 

Allegations of sexual exploitation had the lowest number of concluded Section 42 Enquiries with just five across the 2022/23 period. 10 enquiries were to do with allegations of modern slavery and 25 looked into allegations of discriminatory abuse. 

In 845 of Cornwall Council's concluded Section 42 Enquiries, risks were identified and actions taken, whereas 50  enquiries saw risks identified but no action was taken. In 195 enquiries, no risks were identified and no action was taken, and 115 enquiries saw no risk identified but actions taken. 

There were 110 enquiries ceased at the individual's request and no action was taken. There were also 100 incidences where assessments proved to be inconclusive and no action was taken. 

The ages of individuals involved in the Section 42 Enquiries listed in the data ranged from 18 years old to over 85 years old. The number of individuals per 100,000 people involved in enquiries who were aged 85 or older was 1,001. The number of individuals who were involved in enquiries aged between 65 and 74 years old was 183 per 100,000 people. 

The number of individuals involved in enquiries between the ages of 18 and 64 was 197 per 100,000 people, while the number of individuals involved in enquiries between the ages of 75 and 84 was 391 per 100,000 people. 

Nationally, the number of safeguarding concerns being recorded by local authorities is at an eight-year high, with 587,970 safeguarding concerns recorded across 2022/23, compared to 231,220 in 2015/16. 

The number of Section 42 Enquiries has also risen from 99,805 in 2015/16 to 173,280 in 2022/23. The number of other safeguarding enquiries is down on last year, with17,910 recorded in 2022/23 compared to 22,590 in 2021/22. 

Across England, the most common type of risk in Section 42 enquiries that concluded during the time period was neglect and acts of Omission, which accounted for 32 per cent of risks, and the most common location of the risk was the person’s own home at 47 per cent.

According to the data, in 91 per cent of concluded Section 42 enquiries where a risk was identified, the reported outcome was that the risk was reduced or removed.