More than 9,000 ‘safeguarding’ concerns are believed to have been raised about the care of elderly or vulnerable adults in Hertfordshire in the past 12 months.

‘Safeguarding concerns’ are reports that relate to any suspicion of neglect or abuse of an adult. And they can be lodged by a service user, a family member or health professional.

Data – shared with the county council’s adult care and health cabinet panel – shows officers are expecting to have registered 9,609 concerns during 2018/19.

That would be the highest number of safeguarding concerns ever registered in a 12-month period in Hertfordshire.

Councillors were told that the increase reflected improvements in recording and training, which now meant a greater number of concerns were counted.

Following the meeting, executive member for adult care and health Cllr Richard Roberts said many of the concerns highlight areas where care was not as good as it could have been.

And he said feeding back that data to care providers would make the system better.

The council’s target for the number of safeguarding concerns is zero. Cllr Roberts accepted he would like the number to be lower than it is.

Although the 12-month period has ended, actual data has only been collected for first nine months of the 2018/19 year – the first three quarters.

The final figure of 9,609 is a 12-month projection based on the actual figures from the previous months.

The latest actual figures show that in October to December last year there were 2,499 concerns raised.

If proven to be accurate the 9,609 figure would be the equivalent of 1,056 per 100,000 population.

And it would be an increase of more than10 per cent on the previous year’s figure of  8,685.

The county council also compares its performance to other similar authorities – where performance varies.

Last year (2017/18) Essex reported the highest number of concerns, with 12,520 (equivalent to 1,089 per 100,000).

Meanwhile Buckinghamshire reported the lowest with 1,270 (equivalent to 308 per 100,000).