Adults at risk of harm

If you believe an adult is being harmed, please contact Social Work so that we can help.

If you believe that someone urgently needs help, Please call Police Scotland on 101 or 999.

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

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.