THE number of adults considered to be “at risk of harm” in the Scottish Borders has nearly doubled over the last four years. 

In 2014/15, 169 adults were assessed by council social workers to be at risk of harm, as defined under the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) 2007 Act, while in 2018/19 328 adults were considered to be at risk of harm, representing a 94 percent increase. 

People above the age of sixteen are referred to the adult protection officers by people concerned about the welfare of an individual, or the individual themselves, when there is believed to be at risk of harm.

In 2018/19, the council received 642 adult protection referrals, 353 of which were received by Police Scotland. 

Following assessment of these referrals, 328 were known or believed to be identifying significant risk of harm to an individual.

A report, due to be presented to Scottish Borders Council on Thursday, outlines the types of harm the service deals with. 

The author of the report, chief social work officer Stuart Easingwood writes: “Financial and physical harm continue to be the largest types of principle harm reported in the Scottish Borders. 

“These figures combined account for 42 percent of adult protection referrals. Psychological and emotional harm often go alongside physical harm, however, the Scottish Government has requested that we only count the principal type of harm to inform the national adult protection landscape. 

“Discriminatory harm is the smallest type of harm, with only one concern identifying this as a principal harm during 2018/19.

“Adults with a learning disability and older people continue to be the most vulnerable groups of individuals in the Borders. 

“Adults over the age range of 65 years, including clients with a dementia-related illness, continue to be the group at greatest risk of harm in Scottish Borders. 

“Adults at risk who suffer from dementia have seen figures rise from 21 last year to 26 this year. 

“Clients with a learning disability have an assessed level of cognitive deficit, which makes some adults in the learning disability range, more vulnerable than others to harm.

“In many of these cases it is an adult known to the client who becomes the source of harm.”