Safeguarding adults

Everybody has the right to a life free from fear, to be treated with dignity, to have their choices respected, and to not be forced to do things against their will. Safeguarding adults arrangements focus on protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse or neglect.

Safeguarding adults

Safeguarding adults is about people and organisations working together to stop the abuse or neglect of adults who are unable to protect themselves. It also means making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted with regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs.

We are the lead agency responsible for safeguarding adults in Southwark.

The aims of safeguarding adults

The purpose of safeguarding adults is to:

  • stop abuse or neglect wherever possible
  • prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect
  • safeguard adults in a way that supports them in making choices and having control about how they want to live
  • improve life for the adult concerned
  • provide advice and information to help adults with care and support needs to stay safe
  • raise public awareness so that professionals and local communities all play their part in preventing, identifying, and responding to abuse and neglect

Safeguarding arrangements concern any adult aged 18 or over who:

  • has care and support needs (regardless of whether or not they're receiving any help with meeting their needs) and
  • is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect and
  • is unable to protect themselves because of their care and support needs

Care and support needs

An adult with care and support needs may be:

  • an older person
  • a person with a physical disability, a learning disability, or a sensory impairment
  • a person with mental health needs, including dementia or a personality disorder
  • a person with a long-term health condition
  • a  person who misuses substances or alcohol to the extent that it affects their ability to manage day to day
  • people who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and modern slavery

There can be other care and support needs that apply.

Abuse and neglect

Abuse and neglect can take many different forms. Below are some examples:

  • physical abuse
  • psychological abuse
  • neglect (sometimes including self-neglect)
  • sexual abuse or exploitation
  • financial or material abuse
  • disability hate crime
  • discriminatory abuse (for example on grounds of age or sexual orientation)
  • domestic abuse
  • organisational abuse (when a group of people are abused by an organisation, such as a care home)
  • human trafficking and modern slavery
  • female genital mutilation
  • restraint (unlawful or inappropriate use of restraint or physical interventions)

Reporting abuse or neglect

To report a concern about an adult with care and support needs who is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, contact Southwark Adult Social Care. There are a number of ways you can do this:

If you are worried about confidentiality you don't have to give your name when reporting concerns about abuse or neglect.

If the adult concerned is thought to be in immediate danger, always call the police on 999 first.

What happens next

We'll arrange to talk to the adult about whom the concern has been raised as soon as possible to find out what they'd like to happen.

If the adult has difficulty being involved in deciding what should happen, they might have a relative, carer, or a friend who can be consulted on their behalf.

In certain circumstances we must make arrangements for an independent advocate to be appointed. The advocate will help to represent the adult’s views and wishes if they're unable to speak for themselves. See our Indepedent Support page for more information.

Once we've received a safeguarding concern, we'll coordinate an enquiry to find out what has happened and what needs to be done to help and protect the adult.

If a crime has been committed, the police will be contacted so that the adult can have the chance to press charges if they want to.

Following the enquiry we'll agree the steps to protect and support the adult. What the plan involves will depend significantly upon the adult’s own views and wishes about what they want to happen. This might include making a different kind of arrangement for their care and support or helping the adult to end or manage their relationship with the person who has caused them harm.

Sometimes the person who has caused the abuse or neglect has care and support needs too, and may require support in their own right.

You can download copies of our safeguarding adults leaflet (including an easy read version) and poster:

Page last updated: 23 August 2018