Back to The duty to report an adult at risk of abuse and/or neglect

The ‘statutory duty to report’ explained

For the purposes of this guidance, a duty to report to the local authority will be taken to mean a referral to social services who, alongside the police, have statutory powers to investigate suspected abuse or neglect.

A report should be made whenever there are concerns for an adult at risk who:

  1. is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect,
  2. has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs), and
  3. as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

(S.126 of the Social Services and Well-being Act 2014)

The use of the term ‘at risk’ means that actual abuse or neglect does not need to have occurred, rather early interventions to protect an adult at risk of abuse should be considered to prevent actual abuse and neglect.

Example: a care worker has become aware that an adult she is working with has had a relative move in with them following being made homeless. Whilst there is no evidence of actual abuse having taken place, the care worker has noticed that the adult now presents as anxious and nervous, and eager not to offend the relative. The care worker has a duty to report as they have reasonable cause to suspect that this adult is at risk.

If any person has knowledge, concerns or suspicions that a child or adult is suffering, has suffered or is likely to be at risk of abuse, it is their responsibility to ensure that the concerns are referred to social services or the police who have statutory duties and powers to make enquiries and intervene when necessary.


Section 1: Definitions of adults at risk of abuse and neglect

Pointers for Practice Section 1: Signs and Indicators of Abuse and Neglect