Safeguarding adults (adult protection)


Everyone has the right to live a life that is free from abuse, harm and neglect.

  • If you are worried about an adult please call 020 7974 4000 and select option 1, or email
  • If you think an adult is in immediate danger you should call the police on 999.

An adult (someone over 18) with care and support needs may be more at risk of, or already experiencing, abuse or neglect because they:

  • are unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves from harm
  • depend on others for their care
  • lack the mental capacity to take a particular decision

There are a range of care and support needs that might mean you are at risk of abuse. This can include age-related frailty, visual or hearing impairment, physical disability or ill-health, learning disability, mental health problems, substance misuse or because you are providing care for someone else. It doesn’t matter whether or not an organisation is providing services to meet your care and support needs – we will still help you to stay safe from abuse.

Safeguarding adults in Camden is any area of work that protects your right to live in safety, free from abuse or neglect. It involves people and organisations working together to stop suspected abuse and help an adult at risk, taking account of your wishes, culture and beliefs in any decisions that are made.

Safeguarding is also much wider than responding to individual concerns. It involves developing a culture of prevention in services and communities so that abuse doesn’t happen in the first place and also equipping you with the information you need to keep yourself safe.

What is abuse?

Abuse is treating someone in a way that harms, hurts or exploits them. Abuse can take many forms. It can range from treating someone disrespectfully in a way that significantly undermines their worth and affects their quality of life, to causing physical pain, suffering and even death. It includes harm, exploitation and neglect and is not always easy to identify.

There are several types of abuse:

  • physical – hitting, pushing, shaking, spitting, pinching, scalding, pulling hair, misusing medication, using illegal restraint, or other physical harm such as exposing you to extreme heat or cold
  • 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 and forced marriage
  • sexual – any sexual activity where you cannot or do not consent or which you have been coerced into, including rape, sexual assault or being forced to look at sexual images
  • psychological – such as shouting or swearing at or ignoring you, name calling, bullying, threats, intimidation and coercion. It can also include cyber-bullying or taking away your privacy, dignity or free speech
  • financial or material – fraud, theft, forcing you to pay for other people’s things, not allowing you access to or control of your money or property, or using it without your permission. This also includes internet and telephone scamming, pressure over property or inheritance, and misusing powers or attorney
  • neglect – where someone allows you to suffer by failing to care for you or by ignoring your needs, for example with regard to food, medication, heating and personal care. Neglect can be intentional or non-intentional (when someone has not fully understood your care and support needs)
  • self-neglect – not looking after yourself, for example, by not taking care of your personal hygiene, health or surroundings. It can include hoarding – 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 and increase the risk of fire
  • modern slavery – slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude where you are forced into a life of abuse, exploitation and inhumane treatment
  • discriminatory – suffering harassment, bullying, insulting language or ill-treatment because of your age, disability, ethnic origin, religion, culture, sexuality or gender. It can include hate crime (any act of violence or hostility directed at you because of who you are or who someone thinks you are) and ‘mate crime’ (where someone pretends to be your friend with the aim of exploiting you later on)
  • organisational – repeated poor care of one or a number of adults through neglect or poor professional practice in a paid or regulated care setting (such as a hospital, or nursing home, or an organisation paid to support you in your own home)
Abuse may be a repeated or single act, and can affect just you or many people. It can be unintended or deliberate, and it can happen in any relationship or place.

Who might the abuser be?

Abuse is usually caused by someone else, however adults can also sometimes neglect their own care and support needs (this is known as self-neglect). Abusers may be:

  • family members
  • professional staff
  • paid or voluntary workers
  • other adults at risk
  • friends
  • young people
  • carers
  • strangers

Signs of abuse to look out for

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

  • multiple bruising or finger marks
  • injuries you 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 to you

It is a criminal offence to abuse an adult at risk

In 2005, the Mental Capacity Act was introduced and made it a criminal offence to ill-treat or neglect a person who is vulnerable or lacks capacity. If a person is found guilty of such an offence they may be sent to prison for up to five years.

In 2015, the Courts and Criminal Justice Act was introduced and made it a criminal offence for a health or social care worker, or an organisation providing health or social care, to ill-treat or wilfully neglect an adult in their care.  It does not matter whether the adult in their care lack capacity or not.  If a health or social care worker is found guilty of such an offence they may be sent to prison for up to five years.

Would you like to provide feedback?(Click to show feedback form)

Please rate this page to help us improve Please don't include your contact details as we are unable to provide responses via this form. To get in touch please click here.

Please select one of the options.

Thank you for your feedback.