A charity for the elderly said abuse and neglect may have thrived behind closed doors throughout periods of lockdown – contributing to a stark national rise in the number of concerns flagged up to councils between April 2020 and March this year.
NHS Digital figures show 3,610 concerns about adults with care and support needs were reported to Northumberland County Council in that period – up 40% from the 2,570 the year before.
Nationally, nearly 500,000 safeguarding concerns were raised over the year – up five per cent from 2019-20.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: “Hundreds of thousands of older people are being affected each year and we expect the pandemic to have made things worse because of the heightened stress across our society and because abuse and neglect tend to thrive behind closed doors, of which there have been more than usual these last 18 months or so."
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Around 360 inquiries were launched in Northumberland during the year to March – compared to 315 in 2019-20.
There were 60 inquiries involving neglect or acts of omission, 165 concerning physical abuse, 80 about psychological abuse and 60 investigations into financial abuse.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the Government was supporting councils to carry out safeguarding duties effectively and had provided billions in non ring-fenced funding to allow local authorities to continue delivering services throughout the pandemic.