Reports of elderly abuse rise 28%
The number of reports of suspected abuse against vulnerable older people has increased by 28%, a charity has warned.
Age UK said that any sort of abuse against the elderly is "unacceptable"and called on ministers to ensure that vulnerable adults are given the "best possible protection" against it.
The charity made its comments after analysis of data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showed that there was a rise in the number of cases of alleged abuse.
English councils recorded 105,000 alerts for alleged abuse again st people aged 65 or over in 2012/13, up from 82,000 during the previous year.
Of the 70,000 cases that were referred for investigation in the last year, a quarter related to suspicions of physical abuse and 35% to neglect. Around 18% were for financial abuse.
Care workers and family were the most likely alleged abusers, according to the report.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: " These numbers are disturbing: even though growing awareness of the abuse of older people is likely to have contributed to the increase in the number of safeguarding concerns reported to and taken forward by English councils, they concern some of the most vulnerable people in our society, many of whom feel that they have no-one to turn to for help.
"Any abuse of older people is unacceptable and we need a zero-tolerance approach to any abuse, whether through neglect, financial manipulation or physical or mental cruelty.
"Our biggest fear is that there are still many cases that are not reported and we would encourage anyone who suspects that an older person is being abused to contact their social services department or the police straight away.
"The Care Bill presents the ideal opportunity to ensure that vulnerable adults living in our community are given the best possible protection from neglect and abuse. We welcome the advances that the Bill already makes in safeguarding older and disabled people, but with some additional changes that protection could be so much more effective.
"We want to see stronger powers to investigate suspected abuse where a third person is denying access to the person, a new offence of neglect of a vulnerable person who has mental capacity, and an offence of corporate neglect so that directors of care providers can be held to account for neglect."
Ms Abrahams pointed out that people without mental capacity already have more protection.
She called on people to call the Age UK Advice Line on 0800 1696565 if they need advice on what to do if they suspect an older person is being abused.
A Department of Health spokesman said: " No-one should suffer abuse or neglect in a place they are meant to feel safe in, whether this is in their own home or in a care setting.
"It is encouraging that people are coming forward and making allegations where they have concerns because it allows the police, councils and the regulators to investigate them swiftly and robustly, as they must.
"But we also need to make sure everything possible is done to protect people from abuse wherever it might take place.
"This is why we have introduced a new Chief Inspector for Social Care who will hold local areas to account for abuse. We are also currently considering new measures to make directors of care homes and hospitals that allow neglect and abuse to take place personally and criminally accountable for failures in care."