Safeguarding vulnerable adults

Posted on March 6, 2013. Filed under: Adult safeguarding, Adult's Services |


Safeguarding covers the systems and processes in place to protect vulnerable adults from abuse, harm or exploitations.

Every day, vulnerable adults are physically, sexually, financially or psychologically abused, discriminated or neglected.

Adults most at risk of abuse are people who may be unable to:

  • Protect themselves against abuse, harm or exploitation;
  • Speak out for themselves; or
  • Take care of themselves.

‘Safeguarding Adults’ is:

  • the new terminology for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA);
  • also referred to as Adult Protection.

‘Abuse’ is any behaviour towards a person that deliberately or unknowingly causes him or her harm, endangers life or violates their rights.

Policies and legislation


  • White Paper Modernising Social Services – Stressed the importance of improving the protection for adults needing care and support.
  • Speaking up for Justice – Report highlighted the treatment of vulnerable or intimidated witnesses in the criminal justice system and the need to obtain ‘best evidence’. This resulted in their eligibility for special support measures under Part 2 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, supported by the Home Office Action for Justice and Achieving Best Evidence Guidance.
  • Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998


  • Human Rights Act 1998 – Placed a positive duty upon ‘public bodies’ to act compatibly with the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. This includes a duty to intervene proportionately to protect the rights of citizens. Article 2: ‘The right of life’, Article 3: ‘Freedom from torture’ (including humiliating and degrading treatment), Article 8: ‘Right to family life’ (one that sustains the individual).
  • No Secrets – Guidance published by the Department of Health builds upon the Government’s respect for human rights and highlights the need to protect vulnerable adults through effective multi-agency teamwork.
  • Care Quality Commission (CQC) – The new name for the Commission of Social Care Inspection (CSCI)
  • In Safe Hands: Implementing Adult Protection Procedures in Wales




  • Mental Capacity Act – Provides a  much clearer legal framework for people who lack capacity and those caring for them by setting out key principles, procedures and safeguards.
  • Safeguarding Adults – National Framework of Standards – Issued by the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS). The national framework comprised of 11 sets of good practice standards in safeguarding adults. It makes a distinct shift in language from ‘vulnerable adult’ as used in No Secrets, to ‘safeguarding adults’.

 Useful links

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