The independent chair of Argyll and Bute’s adult protection committee has criticised a lack of national leadership in keeping vulnerable people safe from harm.
Bill Brackenridge says there is a “great danger” that the progress made in improving services will not be able to continue without better support from the Scottish Government.
In the foreword to his latest annual report, covering the year to the end of March, Mr Brackenridge says: “I am delighted at the progress that is being made.
“The range of sources of referrals continues to widen; the quality of referrals continues to rise; referrals and subsequent investigations are being undertaken better and more quickly; awareness of adult support and protection continues to rise.
“However, there is a great danger that this momentum will not continue. The whole adult support and protection initiative created by the 2007 [Adult Support and Protection (Scotland)] Act is lacking national leadership.
“Undoubtedly the initiative will prosper better with a powerful national dimension. The National Policy Forum has proved not to be a machine to drive development and there have been too many losses from the civil service team dealing with the issue.
“Maintaining momentum and driving consistent development are clearly on the agenda; I look forward to hearing how this important initiative will be supported nationally.
“I am particularly pleased that 37 per cent of people in Argyll and Bute now know about adult protection. However, I wonder how much higher this figure might be if the was a sustained effort at national level to promote awareness of the issue.
“I do wish the Scottish Government would run a continuous awareness raising campaign; I believe it would be very effective – and it would be much
cheaper than each APC doing it themselves.”
Jamie Hepburn MSP, the Scottish Government’s minister for sport, health improvement and mental health, said: “It’s a sad fact that there are people in our society who are suffering at the hands of others. This could be physical harm, sexual abuse or financial exploitation. It could be neglect, psychological bullying, or taking advantage of a vulnerable person for your own advantage.
“The Scottish Government take the issue of adult protection very seriously. There is a national policy on adult support and protection in place, underpinned by legislation and local partnerships have a duty to deliver these legislative requirements on the ground.
“In February, working with partners, we launched a national campaign highlighting the issue of adult harm in Scotland. The campaign aimed to raise awareness of the issues of adult harm and adults who are at risk of being harmed, as well as encouraging people to act on their suspicions or instincts that somebody may be experiencing harm.”