Protecting vulnerable people

We can support you and someone you know to maintain your personal safety and security.

Anyone can be vulnerable to abuse at some time in their lives. Here is information on how to get help for you or someone else.

You can find out more on the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board website.

Abuse can happen anywhere – at home, in a residential or nursing home, a hospital, in the workplace or in the street.

What is abuse?

Forms of abuse include the following:

  • Physical: being hurt or harmed either deliberately or through rough, careless or thoughtless behaviour.
  • Emotional abuse or bullying: being humiliated or put down or made to feel anxious, frightened or intimidated.
  • Financial abuse or theft: someone using your money or possessions in a way that you don't want or isn't in your best interest.
  • Neglect: not being given the things you need to feel safe and comfortable or not making sure you get the care or treatment you need.
  • Sexual abuse: being made to do something that you don't want to, didn't or couldn't agree to.

Who is vulnerable?

Some adults are particularly vulnerable to abuse such as people who have:

  • dementia
  • a learning disability
  • a mental health problem
  • a drug or alcohol problem
  • a disability or sensory impairment
  • or who through age or illness are dependent on other people to help them
  • or who care for others.

Anyone can be vulnerable to abuse at some time in their lives. Both men and women, rich and poor, and from any ethnic background can be at risk of being abused.

Who carries out the abuse?

The person who is responsible for the abuse is often well known to the person abused. It isn't always intentional. They could be:

  • a paid carer or volunteer
  • a health worker, social care or other worker
  • a relative, friend or neighbour
  • another resident or service user
  • an occasional visitor or someone who is providing a service
  • someone who deliberately exploits vulnerable people.

Talk to someone

  • Are you unhappy or frightened because of something that is happening to you?
  • Or, do you know someone who is?
  • Or, are you caring for someone and feel you need help?

Please tell someone. It can be difficult to talk to someone about what is happening because:

  • the person abusing you is someone you love and trust
  • you feel guilty
  • you depend on the person abusing you for care or financial support
  • you may feel you deserve what is happening to you
  • you feel frightened of what might happen if you tell someone
  • you may feel it’s none of your business
  • you may not know who to talk to about the situation.

These are powerful reasons but they should not stop you telling someone. It can get better if you ask for help.

Where to get help?

You can get help just by talking to someone you trust, such as:

  • your GP or doctor
  • your social worker or care manager
  • home carers
  • community or district nurses
  • inspectors from the Care Quality Commission
  • day care workers
  • hospital staff.

Oxfordshire County Council

We have procedures for dealing with cases of vulnerable adult abuse.

If the person you wish to raise a concern about is in immediate danger then please call the emergency services on 999.

You can report concerns of abuse using the following forms:

Thames Valley Police

Abuse is often a crime. If you need urgent help or a crime has been committed you should contact the police.

If it an emergency you should call 999. It is an emergency if:

  • someone is in immediate danger or need of medical attention
  • a serious crime is in the process of being committed e.g. theft / rape / serious physical assault or
  • a serious crime has just been committed or the perpetrator is still nearby or others are at immediate risk of harm.

Otherwise you should call the Thames Valley Police Public Enquiry Centre on 101.

The Care Quality Commission

If you, a friend or relative, live in a care home or have care at home and are not happy with the care you are getting you can contact the Care Quality Commission who can give you advice on what your rights are and how to complain. 

More information

You can find more information on the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board website.

Other organisations

You can also talk to these organisations in confidence:

Mental Capacity Act

Making decisions about your health, welfare and finances - who decides when you can't? The recently introduced Mental Capacity Act legislation is designed to ensure that you have as much help as possible to make decisions.

Publicity materials

We have a range of leaflets and information aimed at helping you to prevent abuse and report it where you think it is happening.


If you plan to do research or consultation with people who use Oxfordshire County Council's adult social care services or their carers, parents or members of staff, you will need to have your project plan registered and approved before you start.