The LGA's annual stocktake found an astonishing 50% increase in safeguarding enquiries since the implementation of the Care Act 2014 which introduced for the first time a statutory threshold for such enquiries.
But prior to the Care Act local authorities had long been under a duty to follow the statutory guidance on adult protection. As the article in Community Care linked to this post notes, the 2000 guidance "No Secrets" required local authorities to set up multi-agency processes and to follow up allegations of abuse against vulnerable adults. The definition of a vulnerable adult in "No Secrets" was who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation”. The statutory definition in the Care Act uses simpler language but largely includes the same group of individuals.
Some increase in awareness would be expected in the wake of new and widely trailed duties; but a 50% rise may well suggest that the concerns of the Law Commission when they reported in 2011 that adult safeguarding was "neither systematic not co-ordinated" were fully justified.