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July 2022

10 in 18 months! ...

When talking about the abuse and harm of adults with care & support needs, I believe we have moved a long way from where we were say 10 years ago.

My sense is that people from all parts of Norfolk’s workforce positively recognise (and respond to) a good number of the 10 categories of abuse we need to look out for. But we have much more to do on other types of abuse.

One of these is discriminatory abuse.

If I were to ask you how many discriminatory abuse Section 42 enquiries were raised for adults with care & support needs in Norfolk since the beginning of 2021 to the end of June this year, what would you say?

200+? About 100? Less than 50?

You might be surprised to know that for Norfolk there were 10.

Let’s just consider this for a moment ... 10 Section 42 enquiries from a population as large as Norfolk in 18 months.
Even if there is work to be done to tighten up the data, it still leaves us with a tiny number. Clearly this is massively under-reported. We know discriminatory abuse is widespread and some people experience forms of discrimination on an everyday basis.

And it’s not like this is something new. Discriminatory abuse has been a distinct category of abuse since 2000, but it is rarely reported in safeguarding practice as the recent official figures show.

An ‘adult safeguarding’ response is required for those adults who because of their care and support needs are unable to protect themselves from discriminatory abuse. It may also be a hate incident or hate crime - the two responses are not mutually exclusive.

What is discriminatory abuse?
To discriminate is to make an unfair or prejudicial distinction between different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

Discriminatory abuse is [. . .] forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion”. (Section 14.17 Care Art Statutory Guidance).

To put it another way, abuse which is motivated by prejudice or bias, including against those who have protected characteristics, is discriminatory.

As a recent Local Government Association (LGA) briefing set out, there are many reasons why a person may not report discrimination, including if it happens alongside / within other types of abuse. As a result, it is less easy to see the dynamics of discriminatory motives than the experience of abusive acts (for example, an assault motivated by homophobia may be seen as physical abuse). Stigmatisation or feelings of shame, language barriers or a mistrust of statutory services may prevent people from reporting this form of abuse. The abuse may be normalised or difficult to distinguish from everyday experience, leading to low reporting. Discriminatory abuse may be difficult to speak about.

As the briefing rightly points out

‘When undertaking safeguarding work with a person who has protected characteristics, it is important to sensitively identify, in partnership with the person experiencing abuse or neglect, what significance these protected characteristics may have in terms of the motivation for abuse, everyday experiences of discrimination and future risk of abuse or barriers to safety, recovery, leading a fulfilled life and overall wellbeing.’

We need to strengthen Norfolk’s safeguarding work on discriminatory abuse. To help raise awareness and support the widest possible discussions on this, NSAB is proud to be at Norwich Pride on Saturday 30 July. Look out for our information in the event programme. We will also have a stand at the Forum.

The whole event is a real buzz - a riot of colour, noise and a positive atmosphere of celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. Back after a break due to the pandemic, this year’s event will be bigger than ever. Well done to Robert, Julie and all the event trustees and the many people who have been working super-hard behind the scenes to make Pride happen.

Being there on the day is part and parcel of preventative safeguarding in action. (We have six adult safeguarding key principles which underpin all adult safeguarding work, one of which is prevention). The aim is to give ‘clear and simple information about what abuse is, how to recognise the signs and what [a person can] do to seek help’.

Three things I would ask readers of the blog to do:

  1. read the LGA briefing on discriminatory abuse which is a good prompt for us all to gain a better understanding of discriminatory abuse, and how to recognise equality characteristics in case management, and more broadly recognise unconscious bias and discrimination in practice, approaches and strategies within adult safeguarding.

  2. If you are going to Pride, come and say hi - we have a stand in the Norwich Forum.

  3. And … if you can spare one hour (more would be great!) to help me on the day, please drop me email at the address below.


Thank you.

Walter Lloyd-Smith
NSAB Board Manager

Email: [email protected]

Monday 04 July 2022