Safeguarding means protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect. It is also about making sure that the adult’s well-being is promoted, including having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action.

The aims of safeguarding are to:

  • Stop abuse or neglect wherever possible
  • Prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect to adults with care and support needs
  • Safeguard adults in a way that supports them in making choices and having control about how they want to live

The Care Act sets out the responsibilities of professionals to make enquiries when it has reasonable cause to suspect that an adult in its area has:

  • Needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting those needs)
  • Is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and
  • As a result of those needs is unable to protect themselves against abuse or neglect and the risks of it

Definitions of abuse

Abuse us anything that harms another person and might include:

  • Physical abuse – including assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions
  • Domestic violence – including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse and so called ‘honour’ based violence
  • Sexual abuse – including rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure and sexual assault or sexual acts which the adult has not consented or was pressure into consenting
  • Psychological abuse – including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying, isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks
  • Financial or material abuse – including theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation or property, possessions or benefits
  • Modern slavery – encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment
  • Discriminatory abuse – including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment; because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion
  • Organisational abuse – including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, for example, or in relation to care provided in one’s own home. This may range from one off incidents to on-going ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practices as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practice within an organisation
  • Neglect and acts of omission – including ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating
  • Self-neglect – this covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding
  • Sexual exploitation – exploitation is the deliberate maltreatment, manipulation or abuse of power and control over another person. Sexual exploitation can involve grooming, trafficking, coercing, a vulnerable adult for the advantage of another person, often for personal gain

How to raise a concern

If you feel that the situation you wish to report is urgent and the person concerned is at immediate risk, you should telephone us on the numbers listed below or call the Police on 999 (112 from a mobile).

You can also fill in the Report Abuse and Concerns form.

For more help contact us the numbers below:

  • Children and Young People - 023 8083 3336
  • Older People and Vulnerable Adults - 023 8083 3003
  • Race and Hate Crime - 023 8083 4114
  • Outside of normal office hours - 023 8023 3344

For further information on reporting abuse or concerns, please visit:

All contact with us will be treated in the strictest of confidence, (except where a crime may have been committed or where the person you are giving information may be at an unacceptable risk). You do not have to give your contact details. It is however very useful to be able to speak to you if we feel we need further information and if appropriate to give you feedback.

There are lots of charities and services around Southampton that can help protect adults at risk and you can find them on the Protecting Adults at Risk section on Southampton Information Directory.