What is safeguarding adults?

Who To Contact

Knowsley Safeguarding Adults Board

Email: [email protected]

Safeguarding adults means protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent or stop abuse and neglect.

Every adult has the right to be treated with dignity, have their choices respected and live a life free from fear.

On this page, you will find information about: 

Who may be at risk?
What do we mean by 'abuse'?
Other types of exploitation 
What is discrimination?
Spotting the signs of discrimination 
Hate crime
Where might abuse happen?
Who abuses?
What should you do if you, or someone you know, is at risk of abuse or neglect?

Who may be at risk?

An adult at risk is someone aged 18 years or over who:

  • Has, or appears to have, needs for care and support - possibly because of a physical or learning disability, a mental health issue, frailty, dependence on drugs or alcohol, or a chronic illness.
  • Is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect.
  • Is, or appears to be, unable to protect themselves from abuse and neglect because of their needs for care and support.

What do we mean by 'abuse'?

Abuse is mistreatment that violates a person’s human and civil rights. Abuse can take many forms and all are distressing.

Abuse can be:

  • Physical abuse For example being hit, slapped, shaken, misuse of medication or inappropriate restraint.
  • Sexual abuse For example, sexual harassment, witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure, sexual assault, sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting.
  • Psychological abuse For example, emotional abuse, threats of harm, humiliation, controlling behaviour, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying, unreasonable withdrawal of support services.
  • Financial abuse For example, theft, misuse of money, property, possessions or benefits.
  • Organisational abuse For example, neglect and poor practice within a care service such as a hospital or a care home, or a service provided in a person’s home.
  • Discriminatory abuse For example, harassment or ill treatment because of race, gender, gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.
  • Neglect and acts of omission For example, ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide or the withholding of support, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.
  • Domestic abuse For example, psychological, physical, sexual, financial abuse where abuse is carried out in a person’s own home by someone who is an intimate partner or family member. This includes ‘honour’ based violence.
  • Modern slavery For example, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude.
  • Self-neglect For example, an adult neglecting to care for their own personal hygiene, health or surroundings, including behaviour such as hoarding.

Read more detail about the different forms of abuse, including how to spot the signs and sources of support. 

Other forms of exploitation

Although the following forms of exploitation do not appear within the Care Act 2014 in their own right, they can often be linked to other forms of abuse or neglect and it’s important that everyone knows how to recognise them.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination can be the unjust or prejudicial treatment or harassment towards different categories of people because of their race, gender (including gender identity), disability, sexual orientation or religion.

Race, gender, age, disability, religion, sex etc. are known as protected characteristics’. 

The list below shows different forms of discrimination towards people because of their protected characteristics.

Direct discrimination – treating a person less favourably than others

Indirect discrimination – putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that puts someone at an unfair disadvantage

Harassment – unwanted behaviour that violates a person’s dignity or creates an unpleasant or offensive environment for that person

Victimisation – treating a person unfairly because they have complained about discrimination or harassment.

Spotting the signs of discrimination

  • Verbal abuse, derogatory remarks or inappropriate use of language linked to a protected characteristic
  • Acts or comments motivated to harm and damage – this includes inciting others to commit abusive acts towards others
  • Harassment or deliberate exclusion on the grounds of a protected characteristic
  • Sub-standard service provision relating to a protected characteristic
  • Denying access to communication aids, or not allowing access to an interpreter, signer or lipreader
  • The person appears withdrawn and isolated
  • Expressions of anger, frustration, fear or anxiety
  • An adult making complaints about the service not meeting their need

What is hate crime?

Crimes committed against a person because of their disability, gender-identity, race, religion/beliefs, or sexual orientation are hate crimes and should be reported to the police. Hate crimes can include:

  • Threatening behaviour
  • Assault
  • Robbery
  • Damage to property
  • Inciting others to commit hate crimes
  • Harassment

Remember, if you think a crime is being committed, you should inform the police. If you don’t, who will?
Read more about hate crime.


Where might abuse happen?

Abuse can happen anywhere, in a person’s own home, in a day service, care home or hospital or in the community.

Who abuses?

Anyone can carry out abuse or neglect - a paid care worker or other professional, a volunteer, a neighbour, friend or even a family member.

What should you do if you, or someone you know, is at risk of abuse or neglect?

If you suspect that somebody is being abused, please do not ignore it.

You may be the only person who can stop it. Remember, if you think something is wrong, it probably is.

Report concerns about an adult at risk in Knowsley

Chat with us