Adult protection campaign image

If you think an adult you know is being harmed, we can help. You can tell us, in confidence, and we can take action to protect the person you’re worried about.

If you’re an adult and you’re being harmed, we can help keep you safe.

If you’re worried about an adult being harmed, please tell us.

All adults deserve to feel safe, make their own choices and be treated with dignity and respect. If you know someone who is being stopped from living this life, they may be an adult at risk of harm.

Making sure that all adults, particularly people who are ill, frail or have a disability, is everyone’s business.

The best way to make sure the person you’re worried about gets the help they need quickly is to phone us. You can call us on:

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm:
01324 506400
All other times:
01786 470500

If it’s an emergency, always dial

999

You can also contact Police Scotland when it's not an emergency on:

101


Who is an adult at risk of harm?

An adult at risk of harm is a person over the age of 16 who:

  • finds it difficult to keep themselves or their property, such as their house and belongings, safe
  • is at risk of being harmed by their own actions or the actions of others
  • can be more at risk because of illness, a physical or mental disability or a mental health problem

People who may harm adults

Anyone can harm. This may be a home help who comes into someone's home, a nurse in a care home, a neighbour, friend, family member, wife or husband, volunteer or a stranger.

Where harm may happen

Harm can happen anywhere. It could in someone’s own home, at a day centre or lunch club, in hospital, at a friend’s house, in a park or other public place.

How you might you know if an adult is being physical harmed

  • The person might tell you directly or hint that something is not right
  • A carer or family member may tell you about something that happened or a feeling that they have that something is wrong
  • You may see or hear something that makes you feel uncomfortable or distressed. This may be once, or on many occasions

Frequently asked questions

  1. What information should you tell us?
  2. What happens once you've told us your concerns?
  3. What action can we take?
  4. What if it turns out your worries have no basis?
  5. Will you find out what happens to the person you’re concerned about?
  6. What to do if you are being harmed or at risk of harm?
  7. What we mean by physical harm
  8. What we mean by psychological harm
  9. What we mean by financial harm
  10. What we mean by sexual harm
  11. What we mean by neglect
  12. What we mean by institutional harm
  13. What we mean by discriminatory harm

General

What information should you tell us?

It will help us to decide what to do next if you can:

  • give us as much information as you can about the person you're worried about and their family or carers
  • describe what it is that concerns you
  • tell us anything else that we should be aware of, for example other children in the family or if the adult lives alone

What happens once you've told us your concerns?

We'll always take you concern seriously.

If the person is at serious risk, we’ll take immediate action.

We’ll gather more information from others who may know the person. This will help us to assess the level of risk and how best to respond

If the person you’re worried about is an adult, we’ll need to contact them directly. We’ll do this sensitively and, if we can, involve someone they trust


What action can we take?

We can provide advice, support and help to the family or the person who is at risk of harm.

We may carry out a police and social work investigation into the concerns.

We can provide services such as help with childcare, home care, carer support or, if necessary, ask another agency to provide this help.

We'll record your concern after an initial assessment but may take no further action at the time. Your information might help us to build up a picture of the person if further concerns are raised later.


What if it turns out your worries have no basis?

It's OK. You were worried and we checked it out. You had the person’s best interests uppermost when you contacted us.

Your information may still be important at a later date.

If you continue to be worried about the person, or have a new concern, please contact us again.


Will you find out what happens to the person you’re concerned about?

We’ll take any necessary action to keep the person safe. However, we won’t be able to tell you the actions we might take because of the person’s right to confidentiality.


What to do if you are being harmed or at risk of harm?

If you are being harmed or think you are at risk of harm, you must do something about it.

You can tell us or someone you trust. It's important that you know that there are people who can help you now.

You could be a child, young person, adult or older person. Remember, you have a right to be protected and kept safe by harm caused by others.


Harm

What we mean by physical harm

Physical harm can include:

  • hitting
  • slapping
  • punching
  • shaking
  • kicking
  • being kept in a room

Signs you may notice that someone is being physically harmed

The person you're concerned about may:

  • have unexplained or unusual injuries
  • have a delay in getting treatment for injuries or illness
  • suddenly be more confused or their health or appearance may deteriorate with no explanation
  • not being given medicines and tablets properly

Tell us if you think an adult you know is being physically harmed

Physical harm is just one way that an adult can be harmed. Please tell us if you have any concerns about an adult you know.


What we mean by psychological harm

Psychological harm can include being:

  • humiliated
  • intimidated
  • shouted at
  • threatened
  • bullied
  • constantly criticised
  • controlled
  • deprived of contact with others

Signs you may notice that someone is being psychologically harmed

The person you're concerned about may:

  • be anxious or afraid
  • show unexplained changes in the way they behave
  • become anxious or withdrawn
  • be afraid of another person
  • feel under pressure by family or professionals to be moved into, or taken out of, care
  • experience hostile or unkind behaviour by a person in their home, for example who cares for them or a family member

Tell us if you think an adult you know is being psychologically harmed

Psychological harm is just one way that an adult can be harmed. Please tell us if you have any concerns about an adult you know.


What we mean by financial harm

Financial harm can include:

  • theft
  • fraud
  • pressure to hand over a cash or bank card
  • misusing benefits
  • stopping an adult getting money that belongs to them
  • pressure to sign over property, possessions or re-write a will

Signs you may notice that someone is being financially harmed

The person you're concerned about may:

  • have unexplained debt
  • not paying bills for services
  • have their possessions, bank account or property used or taken without their informed consent

Tell us if you think an adult you know is being financially harmed

Financial harm is just one way that an adult can be harmed. Please tell us if you have any concerns about an adult you know.


What we mean by sexual harm

Sexual harm can include:

  • any sexual activity that an adult you know doesn't want or feel comfortable with, including touching, kissing or sexual talk
  • sexual harassment
  • voyeurism
  • sexual photographs that an adult doesn’t want taken or feels comfortable with

Signs you may notice that someone is being sexually harmed

The person you’re concerned about may:

  • be afraid being left with a specific person or group of people
  • show unexplained changes in the way they behave, for example becoming anxious or withdrawn or afraid of another person
  • have pain or itching in the genital area
  • develop a urinary tract infection
  • wet or soil themselves

Tell us if you think an adult you know is being sexually harmed

Sexual harm is just one way that an adult can be harmed. Please tell us if you have any concerns about an adult you know.


What we mean by neglect

Neglect can include:

  • failing to provide food or help with physical tasks like going to the toilet or getting washed
  • not giving medicine or tablets
  • not adequately heating an adult's home
  • not getting the doctor, nurse or other professional to visit when they’re needed
  • not respecting an the adult’s need for privacy and dignity
  • an adult not taking care of themselves in these – and other – ways; this is known as self-neglect

Signs you may notice that someone is being neglected

The person you’re concerned about may:

  • not have their basic needs met, such as having adequate food or heating
  • not being provided with enough information about their rights or entitlements, or being misinformed
  • not be receiving appropriate care that would protect them from harm

Tell us if you think an adult you know is being neglected

Neglect is just one way that an adult can be harmed. Please tell us if you have any concerns about an adult you know.


What we mean by institutional harm

If an adult you know, lives in a care home or with a group of people where a paid organisation looks after you it is possible that institutional harm can happen.

Sometimes even if the person lives in their own home, an organisation that helps them can get it wrong and they can be harmed.

Signs you may notice that someone is being institutionally harmed

The person you're concerned about may:

  • not be getting a professional service from the organisation
  • be stereotyped or discriminated against by the attitudes and behaviour of staff
  • not have choice or flexibility in their lives because of staff-led routines and practices where they live
  • be given low standards of care
  • have concerns and complaints about care standards or staff attitudes that are continually not dealt with

Tell us if you think an adult you know is being institutionally harmed

Institutional harm is just one way that an adult can be harmed. Please tell us if you have any concerns about an adult you know.


What we mean by discriminatory harm

A person you know may be harmed because of their age, disability, gender, sexuality, race, religion or culture.

Tell us if you think an adult you know is being experiencing discriminatory harm.

Discriminatory harm is just one way that an adult can be harmed. Please tell us if you have any concerns about an adult you know.