If you or the person you wish to raise a concern about is in immediate danger, call the emergency services on 999.
Information for professionals
This page is for members of the public who wish to raise an alert because they are concerned for themselves or someone else.
If you are a professional, for example - a doctor or a social worker, visit the raising a safeguarding concern page.
What we mean by 'safeguarding'
Safeguarding means protecting adults at risk, enabling them to live safely and free from abuse and neglect. Safeguarding is everyone's responsibility.
Who is an 'adult at risk'?
An adult at risk is someone who
- has care and support needs
- is at risk of being abused or neglected
- is unable to protect themselves against abuse or neglect because of those needs.
Who can report a safeguarding concern
Anyone can report a safeguarding concern. For example, they might be friends, family members, carers, professionals working with adults with care and support needs, or someone who thinks they have been abused.
When you report abuse, we will:
- listen to you
- take your concerns seriously
- respond sensitively
- consider any immediate danger that the vulnerable adult may be in
- talk to the police if it is a criminal matter
- make enquiries about the concerns
- consider the wishes of the adult at risk
- develop a plan with the adult that will keep them safe.
How to report a safeguarding concern
Use the online form below to make your report.
You will need the following:
- Details of the person you are concerned about
- Details of the incident/concern
- Details of the alleged perpetrator (if known)
- An email address. Need help setting up an email account?
When you report a safeguarding concern, you will be asked which form or forms of abuse you think the person is experiencing or is at risk of. See the 'how to recognise abuse' guidance below.
If you suspect someone is being abused
Try to speak to the person about what you have noticed, being as open and honest as possible. Allow the person to talk and listen carefully to what they tell you, offering to seek help if that is appropriate.
Some people may want to talk but may be worried about how you might react, so it is essential to stay calm if they tell you that they have been abused. Some people may ask you to promise not to tell anyone else about the abuse. Whether you are a friend or relative, you should always be honest and never make false promises.
You must remember that the person is an adult and should never be treated like a child, even if they appear confused and disoriented (they can still react to what you are saying and how you say it). Try not to take over or be over-protective, and remember that you should not lead someone into saying something.
If you are being abused
It can be difficult to accept that you are being abused and even more difficult to tell someone else. Sometimes this is because the person who is doing it is a close family member or a friend, and sometimes it is because you think people will laugh at you or it will affect how your community or friends think about you.
Regulatory bodies can take action if you receive care or support from health services, residential homes, or a home care agency.
You are still entitled to protection if you live in your home and do not receive care.
How to recognise abuse
Types of abuse
Abuse happens when someone hurts you or treats you badly. It can be accidental, deliberate or due to a lack of training. There doesn't need to be an injury for abuse to have taken place. If a person is being abused in one way, they are often also being abused in other ways.
- Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking and restraint.
- Sexual abuse includes rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented, could not consent, or was pressured into consenting.
- Psychological abuse includes emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.
- Financial or material abuse includes theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, and the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.
- Neglect includes ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health care, social care, and education services or misuse of medication, adequate nutrition or heating.
- Self-neglect is when the person isn’t meeting their own needs, such as adequately feeding themselves or taking care of their own medical needs.
- Modern slavery includes forcing someone to work through threats, being dehumanised and bought/sold as property, being physically constrained and/or having restrictions placed upon their freedom.
- Domestic abuse includes incidents or a pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence.
- Discriminatory abuse includes racist, sexist behaviour and harassment based on a person's ethnicity, race, culture, sexual orientation, age or disability.
- Organisational or institutional abuse can happen in residential homes, nursing homes or hospitals when people are mistreated because of poor or inadequate care, neglect and poor practice.
An abuser is often well known to the person being abused and could be:
- family members
- professional staff
- paid care workers
- other service users
- friends and associates
Signs of abuse
Watch out for:
- multiple bruising or finger marks
- injuries the person cannot give a good reason for
- deterioration of health for no apparent reason
- loss of weight
- inappropriate or inadequate clothing
- withdrawal or mood changes
- a carer who is unwilling to allow access to the person
- an individual who is unwilling to be alone with a particular carer
- unexplained shortage of money.
Where abuse happens
Abuse can occur in:
- someone’s home
- a carer's home
- a day centre
- a residential or nursing home
- a hospital
- a public place.