Back to Responding to a report of an adult at risk of abuse and/or neglect

Managing Difficulties in Gaining Access

Whilst it is essential that the adult at risk who is being abused or neglected and needs action to protect them is seen and spoken to, it may be difficult to gain access to them.

For example:

All attempts to resolve the situation should be made. If this fails, then the local authority should consider whether:

If the conclusion is that the use of legal powers is necessary and justified practitioners, in collaboration with their managers and legal advisors should decide what powers are most appropriate for the situation.

Any decisions and the reasons for them should be clearly and fully recorded.

Relevant legal powers

The following legal powers may be relevant, depending on the circumstances:

The police have powers to enter premises:

Adult Protection and Support Orders (APSOs)

The aim of an Adult Protection and Support Orders is to enable adults at risk to express their views independently. These should be sought rarely after less interventionist approaches have been considered and/or attempted. However, in circumstances when a social services practitioner, or other practitioner acting on the local authority’s behalf, is prevented from speaking to the adult suspected of being at risk because of abuse and neglect or the practitioner suspects the adult may be being coerced or threatened into not speaking to the practitioner the local authority can apply for an APSO.

N.B. Adult Protection and Support Orders do not grant a power of removal. The principle is that the wishes of an adult at risk should be capable of being freely expressed and that they should be respected.

For example, a report has been received from a member of the public that an adult with learning disabilities is being physically abused and neglected by a relative. Initial checks indicate this man is living in a dilapidated caravan on a farm. A social work practitioner visits the farm and is prevented from seeing the man by his uncle, who indicates his nephew is very shy and does not want to talk to anyone and that everything is fine. This does not appear to be commensurate with the living conditions. The practitioner notices a thin and very dirty looking man staring out from behind a filthy caravan window.

Information gathered from other agencies indicate that the man is not registered with a GP or known to any other services.

After discussion with the safeguarding manager and police, a decision is taken to apply for an APSO.

The order is designed to:

  1. enable an authorised officer1 from the local authority to ascertain whether that person is making decisions freely;


  1. enable the authorised officer to properly assess whether the person is an adult at risk;


  1. to decide, as required by s.126(2) of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, what, if any, action should be taken.

The order is made by a justice of the peace who must be satisfied of 1 and 2, and also that:

An APSO will:

When making the decision as to whether to apply for an Adult Protection and Support Order (APSO) the following questions should be considered and inform the application:

The APSO may allow for another specified person to accompany the authorised officer. Examples of such a person who might be included:

The anticipated roles of those who accompany the authorised officer will vary. They will include:

(See Working Together to Safeguard People Volume 4 Adult Protection and Support Orders for more detail)

Practitioners who have knowledge of the adult at risk, their family and carers must co-operate and share information to establish the need for and support the application for the APSO.

1An authorised officer is employed by the Local Authority, has undertaken specialist training and is required to keep their skills up to date.