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What is safeguarding adults?

Find out more about Camden's adult safeguarding policy and the safeguarding adults partnership board


Definition of safeguardingThe Care Act statutory guidance defines adult safeguarding as:

Protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action. This must recognise that adults sometimes have complex interpersonal relationships and may be ambivalent, unclear or unrealistic about their personal circumstances.'

A local council must act when it has reasonable cause to suspect that an adult in its local authority area, regardless of whether the person ordinarily lives there:

  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the local council is meeting any of those needs)
  • is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and
  • as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

(Care Act 2014, section 42)

Safeguarding is for people who have care and support needs because of issues such as dementia, learning disability, mental ill-health or substance abuse, that may make them more vulnerable to abuse or neglect.

Types of abuseAbuse is mistreating someone in a way that denies them their human rights. Abuse and neglect can occur in your own home or a public place, while you are in hospital or in a college or care home. You may be living alone or with others. The person causing the harm may be a stranger, but more often than not the person is known.

There are several types of abuse

Physical - hitting, pushing, shaking, spitting, pulling hair, inappropriate use of medication or restraint, or other physical harm.

Domestic abuse - Controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour or violence between people who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members.  It can include psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse, and so called ‘honour’ based violence.

Sexual - any sexual activity where an adult at risk cannot or does not consent, including rape, sexual assault or being forced to look at sexual images.

Psychological - such as shouting or swearing at or ignoring an adult at risk, name calling, bullying, threats and intimidation. It can also include cyber bullying.

Financial or Material - fraud, theft, forcing an adult at risk to pay for other people's things, not allowing an adult at risk access to or control of their money or property, or using it without their permission.This also includes internet and telephone scamming, as well as pressures over property and inheritance.

Neglect - where a person allows an adult at risk to suffer by failing to care for them or by ignoring their needs, for example with regard to food, medication, heating and personal care.

Self-Neglect - not looking after yourself, for example, by not taking care of your personal hygiene, health or surroundings.  It can include the collecting of a large number of items with little value to others (e.g. newspapers) that make it difficult to live in your home.

Modern Slavery - slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude where people are forced into a life of abuse and inhumane treatment.

Discriminatory - suffering harassment, bullying or ill-treatment because of your age, disability, ethnic origin, sexuality or gender.

Organisational - repeated poor care of an adult at risk through neglect or poor professional practice in a paid or regulated care setting.

Abuse is always caused by someone else

Abusers may be:

  • Family members
  • Professional staff
  • Paid or voluntary workers
  • Friends
  • Young people
  • Carers

If someone is suffering abuse, you may notice one or a combination of the following:

  • Multiple bruising or finger marks
  • Injuries the person cannot give a good reason for
  • Worsening health for no reason
  • Weight loss
  • Withdrawal or mood changes
  • Tearfulness
  • Neediness, wanting affection or being clingy
  • An unexplained shortage of money
  • Inappropriate, dirty or inadequate clothing
  • A carer who is unwilling to let other people have access with the person.

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