More than seven people with mental or physical disabilities are abused in Tayside and Fife every day, shocking new figures have revealed.
Yet a leading charity has claimed the numbers, uncovered by a Courier investigation, are only the “tip of the iceberg”.
Enable Scotland’s claim came as new report urged GPs to do more to spot and support vulnerable adults as it praised the work of a multi-agency team cracking down on financial exploitation.
Cash scams were amongst the most common types of harm reported to local authorities, alongside sexual and physical attacks, figures obtained by freedom of information laws revealed.
In a report to councillors, Colin McCashey said the “slow progress” of GP involvement in reporting cases was a “personal disappointment for me”.
However, the independent convener of the City of Dundee Adult Support Protection Committee said improvements were being made within the health service and he praised work by the Financial Harm sub-group to link up with banks and post offices to try and stop fraudulent activities.
A total of 2,795 cases have been reported over the past two years, with 125 in Angus, 2,311 in Dundee, 39 in Fife, and 320 in Perth and Kinross.
Year-on-year increases in the number of incidents were reported in Dundee and Perthshire but there was a fall in Angus. Fife said last year was the first year the numbers have been recorded.
Mr McCashey’s report showed the vast majority of episodes of harm took place in the victim’s home, while police officers were responsible for almost all the referrals to authorities.
Kayleigh Thorpe, campaigns and policy manager with Enable Scotland, said: “Hurtful and offensive language was highlighted by our members as a regular experience with nine out of 10 of them saying they had experienced this in public places.
“While the number of incidents being reported may well be on the increase, we know that this is still only the tip of the iceberg as all too often these crimes go unreported.
“That is why Enable Scotland worked with Police Scotland on its ‘See it, report it’ campaign last month.
“More needs to be done to ensure people who have learning disabilities feel safe in their communities and empowered to speak up when they have been a victim of crime.
“It is essential that crimes of this nature are taken seriously and the appropriate judicial response is taken.
“But it is equally important that we take the necessary action to prevent these crimes happening in the first place.”
Councillor Willie Sawers depute convener of Dundee City Council’s policy and resources committee said: “Good progress continues to be made in this area, but this does not mean we should become complacent. Protecting vulnerable adults is one of our top priorities and one we are fully committed to.”
A Perth and Kinross Council spokeswoman said: “Council employees who work with vulnerable adults have undergone adult protection training so they can recognise the signs of potential harm or abuse and act in the person’s best interests.”
A Fife Council spokeswoman said protecting adults at risk is at the heart of the authority’s strategic leadership, adding its figures were comparatively low because they highlighted investigations which take place after it has been established that someone is experiencing serious harm and appears to be under undue pressure to resist support and protection.
An Angus Council spokesman said: “The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 makes sure that all agencies work together to help and protect adults at risk of harm. Everyone has a part to play in protecting adults who are less able to protect themselves.”