Protecting vulnerable adults from abuse


Protecting vulnerable adultsWiltshire Council is committed to working with other agencies to ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable people who are at risk living in Wiltshire. We work with Adults at Risk to help them achieve the outcome from a safeguarding investigation that is important to them. We always aim to keep people safer long term and to prevent further abuse.

Content of Fact Sheet

This page explains:


Definition of an 'Adult at Risk'

The term 'adult at risk' refers to any person aged 18 years and over who is receiving community care or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness and who is or may be unable to take care of himself or herself, or unable to protect himself or herself against significant harm or serious exploitation'.

This also includes those adults at risk owing to their caring role or family responsibilities.


What is abuse?

Abuse is something that is done to another person and that harms them in some way. It may be a single act or continue over a period of time and can be either deliberate or accidental.

Abuse can take several forms and may include one or more of the following:

  • Physical abuse: Causing someone physical harm, for example by hitting, pushing or kicking them, misusing medication, causing someone to be burnt or scalded, controlling what someone eats, restraining someone inappropriately or depriving them of liberty.
  • Sexual abuse: Sexual acts to which a person has not or cannot give their consent or which they have been pressurised into. For example rape, inappropriate touching or use of sexualised language. Acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting.
  • Psychological abuse: Causing someone mental and emotional distress by using threats, humiliation, control, intimidation, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks.
  • Financial abuse: Taking money, goods or property without permission. This can include theft, fraud, exploitation or putting pressure on someone to make a will, transfer the ownership of property or carry out other financial transactions.
  • Neglect: Failure to provide access to services to meet a person’s health, social care or educational needs or withholding the necessities of life such as medication, food and heating.
  • Discriminatory abuse: Treating someone in a less favourable way and causing them harm, because of their age, gender, sexuality, disability, ethnic origin or religion
  • Institutional abuse: Services that fail to recognise the rights of service users and offer a poor quality of care or which condone ways of working which cause harm to vulnerable people.
    Domestic violence – including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse.


Who are the abusers?

Anyone can abuse a vulnerable person. This includes:

  • partners
  • relatives
  • friends and neighbours
  • other users of a service
  • someone paid to provide a health or social care service
  • volunteers
  • strangers
  • Most abusers are people already known to the Adult at Risk but some people will deliberately exploit or harm individuals who they see as easy targets.


Where can the abuse take place?

Abuse can take place anywhere. This includes:

  • A person’s own home
  • A friend or relative’s home
  • A hospital
  • A care home
  • A day service
  • An educational establishment
  • A public place


What to do if you think that an Adult at Risk is being abused in Wiltshire

Information on what to do if you are concerned about a vulnerable person living in Wiltshire is available in the Staff Guide.

If you have any concerns about a vulnerable person being abused you should contact the Social Care Help Desk or one of the Wiltshire Police Vulnerable Adults’ Units.

Advice and Contact Team

Tel: 0300 456 0111


Weekdays: Monday – Thursday - 08:30 – 17:20 Friday - 08:30 – 16:20

If you need urgent help outside of these hours, you can telephone the Emergency Duty Service on

Tel: 0300 456 0100

What to do if you think that an Adult at Risk is being abused in Swindon

Information on what to do if you are concerned about a vulnerable person living in Swindon is available on the Swindon Borough Council Website or in the Swindon Safeguarding Adults Staff Guide (pdf 160kb) booklet
or contact:

Adult Safeguarding Team, Swindon Borough Council
Tel: 01793 463555
E-mail: (During office hours - Monday to Friday inclusive, 8.30am to 5.00pm).

Safeguarding Adults Investigation Team, Wiltshire police
Tel: 01380 826350 (During office hours: Monday to Friday inclusive, 9.00am-5.00pm).


What will happen when you report the abuse of an Adult at Risk?

Your concern will always be taken seriously.

Once you have made a referral to the Social Care Help Desk or the Wiltshire Police, staff from the Department of Community Services, the Police and other appropriate organisations will meet together.

They will decide how the allegation or suspicion should be investigated using the Policy and procedures for safeguarding vulnerable adults in Wiltshire, viewable on the Wiltshire Safeguarding Adults Board website.


Further information on what are we are doing about the abuse of vulnerable adults in Wiltshire

Copies of the publications described below can be obtained by clicking the link on the website, or
by emailing:

phoning 0300 456 0111

or by writing to:
Wiltshire Adult Safeguarding Team
Wiltshire Council
Bythesea Road
BA14 8JN


The Wiltshire Safeguarding Adults’ Board

The Wiltshire Safeguarding Adults Board (WSAB) is a statutory body established by the Care Act 2014. Its main objective is to protect all adults in its area who have needs for care and support and who are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect against which they are unable to protect themselves because of their needs. The WSAB aims to fulfil its purpose by:

  • Co-ordinating the work of its member agencies to determine shared policy, facilitate joint training, raise public awareness, monitor and review the quality of services relating to safeguarding adults in Wiltshire.
  • Ensuring that all agencies work together to minimise the risk of abuse to adults at risk of harm and to protect and empower those people effectively when abuse has occurred or may have occurred.

You can visit the Wiltshire Safeguarding Adults Board on their website at

The purpose of the Local Safeguarding Adults’ Board is to enable organisations to work together to try to prevent vulnerable people being abused and to ensure that any concerns about someone being abused are investigated thoroughly.

The Terms of Reference describes in more detail some of the work undertaken by the Wiltshire Local Safeguarding Adults’ Board.

WSAB Policy and Procedures – safeguarding adults at risk in Wiltshire (March 2017) sets out how organisations in Wiltshire will work together to investigate any allegations or suspicions that a vulnerable person is being abused.

The Safeguarding Adults’ Procedure is used to investigate all allegations of abuse even if a person is in hospital, funding their own care services or is being funded by an authority outside Swindon or Wiltshire.

Private and voluntary sector organisations that provide services to vulnerable people in Wiltshire and Swindon have agreed to use the Safeguarding Adults’ Policy and Procedure if they are concerned that a vulnerable person is being abused.


Domestic Violence:For information about Domestic Violence.
Safer Communities: Community safety, anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse and substance misuse can affect individuals, families and communities. The team work to plan and co-ordinate activities to address these issues.
Trading Standards
Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Research in practice for adults - What is safeguarding adults?


Organisations in Wiltshire that offer information and advice on safeguarding vulnerable people

Age UK Wiltshire:

Age UK Wiltshire promotes the well being of older people and provides direct services to older people across Wiltshire.

Age UK Wiltshire

13 Market Place



SN10 1HT

Tel: 01380 727767

Fax: 01380 728797


Page Updated 5th April 2019