Adults at Risk of Harm

The vast majority of adults are capable of protecting themselves. However, some people are vulnerable because of health or disability issues and need help to protect themselves from harm.

The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 provides ways to offer support and protection to certain adults who may be at risk of harm or neglect.

Who does the Act say is an ‘adult at risk’ of harm?

An ‘adult at risk’ of harm is defined as a person aged 16 or over who may be unable to protect themselves from harm, exploitation or neglect, because of a:

  • Disability
  • Mental disorder
  • Illness
  • Physical or mental infirmity

What Can I do?

If you are worried that you or someone you know is being harmed, it is important to tell someone.

Remember, the person who did this may also be doing it to others. Or it could be that the person who is being harmed may not be able to report it themselves. Even if it happened many years ago, it is still important to report it.

If you are concerned that your own actions towards an adult in your care may be harmful, it is important to ask for support and advice to help you deal with this situation.

What is Meant by Harm?

Harm is defined as all harmful behaviour. Some examples of this include:

  • Physical: hitting, slapping, pushing, shaking, locking someone in a room, tying someone to a chair, restricting their freedom
  • Psychological: threats of harm, humiliation, intimidation, causing distress, verbal abuse, bullying, constant criticism, controlling, preventing contact with others
  • Neglect: failure to provide medical or physical care, access to a doctor or other services, or denying someone medication, food or heating, privacy or dignity, self neglect
  • Financial: stealing, fraud, pressure to hand over or sign over property or money, misuse of property or welfare benefits, or stopping someone getting their money or possessions
  • Sexual: any sexual activity that a person doesn’t’ understand or want, photographing, sexual harassment, voyeurism
  • Information: withholding information or advice about rights or entitlements
  • Discrimination: because of age, colour, disability, gender, race, religion, cultural background or sexual orientation

Who Can Cause Harm?

This can be anyone, including family members and paid staff. And it can happen anywhere, eg. in someone’s own home, a care home, day centre or hospital.

People’s Rights

The Act is about keeping a balance between respecting people’s rights and taking action, where necessary, to support and to protect them. Everyone has the right to live as they wish without fear of harm, abuse or neglect.

What Happens Next?

Whatever you tell us will be treated with sensitivity. You will be asked for details about the person you think is at risk of harm and about the person who is harming them. You do not have to give your name but we will have to act on any concerns you raise. We will look very carefully at the situation and the help given will depend on the circumstances and wishes of the person involved.

Who Should I Contact?

Contact East Dunbartonshier Council Customer Services on 0300 123 4510 and ask for Social Work.

You can also speak to a health professional or contact any Police Scotland Station on 101. They will take your concerns seriously.