Legislation is needed to protect vulnerable adults, charity Action on Elder Abuse said today as it published new research.
More than half of adults abused are older people, it found.
In a pilot scheme, nine English local authorities made 639 adult protection referrals in six months. Of these 350 people were over 65 and 134 were over 85.
More than 200 related to abuse in an adult’s own home and 188 within residential care. Only five referrals led to prosecutions.
The charity now wants adult protection to have the same status as child protection and domestic violence.
Protection of vulnerable adults is based on government guidance and is not statutory.
Action on Elder Abuse also called for:
• standard national data collection and reporting requirements on vulnerable adult referrals
• clear national performance measures on reducing adult abuse
Care services minister Liam Byrne called the results of the government-funded study “shocking”.
“Too many of our vulnerable and older people are being subjected to attacks or are harmed as a result of neglect, and too few people are being brought to justice for it,” he said.
The minister announced a new group of “dignity guardians” including representatives from Help the Aged and Action on Elder Abuse, to help “toughen the regulation of social care”.
He said the government is working on a “range” of existing measures to tackle elder abuse.