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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C

10% of Irish people reported witnessing adult abuse last year, research shows

Only 3% of those who witnessed abuse reported it to an authority such as the HSE or gardaí

SOME 10% OF Irish adults have witnessed the abuse of a vulnerable adult in the past year, a new survey has revealed. 

The research, carried out by Safeguarding Ireland, found that 12% of those who witnessed the abuse did nothing about it. 

A further 57% discussed it with the person being abused while 40% discussed it with a trusted person. 

Safeguarding Ireland is a non-governmental organisation which promotes the rights of vulnerable adults such as the elderly and those with a disability. 

The organisation said greater resources, including introducing effective legislation and establishing a 24-hour information and support helpline, were essential to tackle the issue. 

The research, which was carried out by Red C, found that 15% sought professional advice, and 3% reported what they witnessed to an authority such as the HSE or gardaí. 

Safeguarding Ireland chairperson Patricia Rickard Clarke said: “The fact that 10% of Irish adults reported having witnessed abuse shows that official HSE figures – in excess of 10,000 alleged cases reported annually – are just the tip of the iceberg.

“The message from this research is clear – we need tougher laws to support people to take action and to call out abuse of vulnerable adults,” she said. 

“When a vulnerable, or frail elderly person is forced to do something against their will – be it to do with their finances, their care, or their liberty – it is abuse and this is against the law.”

New legislation – the Assisted Decision Making bill – was introduced in 2015 but has yet to be enacted. 

The Red C survey of 1,000 people showed younger people were among the groupings that were more likely to report the abuse they witnessed. 

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