Women in Dorset are almost twice as likely as men to be the subject of a formal abuse enquiry – with the risks going up for those over 75 and increasing again for those over 85.

Yet the Dorset Safeguarding Adult Board gets only half the funding of the safeguarding board for children to investigate cases and make recommendations.

It’s head, independent chair Barrie Crook, says the situation has to change or it will not be able to function adequately.

He told Dorset councillors this week that all of the work of the board was now at risk because of low funding: “There is now an issue about the board’s viability,” he told the Dorset Council people scrutiny committee, “For the last two years we have had to dip into our reserves to do all that needed to be done, but that can’t continue and we need to address that.”

He said that the funding for the adult board was just £29,000 a year, compared to £80,000 for the children’s safeguarding board: “It’s a situation which does seem anomalous,” he said.

Mr Crook says the work of the board during the year has included investigating the death of a man with learning disabilities who was killed by those who befriended him and the deaths of two rough sleepers.

But much of the board’s work is made up of investigating safeguarding issues for adults with more than 2,200 cases last year, 555 which went on to a formal enquiry.

In a report to Dorset councillors the board say that 41 per cent of referrals about safeguarding were made by residential care staff and 13 per cent by domiciliary care staff.

Of the 555 cases which went to what is known as a Section 42 enquiry under the Care Act, 59 per cent were found to be abuse by neglect and acts of omission; 25 per cent physical, 8 per cent financial and 8 per cent psychological and emotional.

In 57 per cent of those cases the source of the risk was a private service provider, 17 per cent a relative or other family carers and 7 per cent ‘known but not related.’

More than half of the cases occurred in a care or residential home and 37 per cent in their own home.

Mr Crook said women were nearly twice as likely to be the subject of a Section 42 enquiry (62 per cent) in all age groups with a ‘significant increase’ for those over 75 and another further rise for those over the age of 85.

He added that the board had also turned its attention during the year with the help of Bournemouth University to dealing with vulnerable adults caught up in county lines drug dealing.

  • The Care Act 2014 (Section 42) requires that each local authority must make enquiries, or cause others to do so, if it believes an adult is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect. An enquiry should establish whether any action needs to be taken to prevent or stop abuse or neglect, and if so, by whom.