Headlines: October 31st, 2003

One of the first local authorities to respond to government calls for the establishment of special bodies to protect vulnerable adults from abuse has issued its Adult Protection Committee’s first annual report. Blackburn with Darwen’s APC says the small number of abuse cases it has investigated are potentially “the tip of the iceberg” and many more could be being ignored simply because people are unaware of the seriousness of adult abuse.The committee has launched an information campaign highlighting the need for people in the area to speak out about the abuse of adults. It coincides with the publication of the report which looks at its work during the last year to protect vulnerable adults.

A Department of Health report, “No Secrets”, recommended that all authorities set up an Adult Protection Committee. Blackburn with Darwen was among the first to respond. It developed an existing multi-agency working group into the APC. David Kerambrum, who chairs the committee, said most people were aware of child abuse as an important issue but did not realise that similar abuse could be happening to adults. Vulnerable adults, such as older people, people with physical or mental disabilities or those incapacitated by illness could be open to abuse at times when they were dependant on others for aspects of their care.

The publication of the report also saw the unveiling of the APC’s new logo which is based on designs by students at Blackburn College and which was chosen by users of social services.

Councillor Maureen Bateson, Executive Member for Social Services said all the partners in the APC were determined to confront the issue. “Raising people’s awareness of adult abuse may take some time as many people refuse to accept it happens, as happened with child abuse. The launch of the first annual report and the unveiling of the logo are just the first step in delivering a strategy that we hope will mean that people in Blackburn and Darwen know about adult abuse and challenge it wherever it happens, ” she added.

In addition to the information campaign, the APC is setting up training to raise awareness of adult abuse issues in different communities and organizations.