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Thousands of disabled adults sexually abused in last two years

Thousands of disabled adults across England have been the victim of sexual abuse in the past two years, figures have shown.

Information from 106 councils shows that there were 4,748 reports of sexual abuse against adults with disabilities since 2013.

The BBC sent FOI requests to 152 councils with adult social services responsibilities in England, asking how many reports of sexual abuse of disabled clients they had recorded over the financial years from April 2013 until 16 February 2015.

The data showed that 63% of the 4,748 reported cases were against those with learning disabilities, and 37% against those with physical disabilities.

The LGA told the BBC “keeping people safe, including people with learning disabilities, is one of the most important things councils do”.

It said “councils work hard to ensure support is available when cases of abuse are referred”.

However, Jon Brown, head of sexual abuse programmes at the children's charity NSPCC said the number reported was the “visible peak” of what could be a bigger problem.

“We know with sexual abuse that many victims find it difficult to speak out,” he told the BBC.

He also said that while the current data related just to adult cases, that children are also in danger.

“We know from research that disabled children and young people are three or four times more likely to be abused and neglected than children and young people who are not disabled.

“Abusers are often very adept at identifying vulnerabilities. And, importantly, we know that it’s less likely for children and young people to be believed as well.”

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