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

Information-gathering by the report-taker

The report-taker requires enough information to:

Reports from the general public

If the report is being made by a member of the public then they may not have much information. However, it is important to elicit as much detail as possible regarding:

Completing initial checks

The initial checks should consist of:

Repeated reports of abuse and/or neglect

Repeated reports may be received, for example from the adult at risk, family members, friends or neighbours. In these situations:

On occasion repeated unfounded reports may be made and further enquiries may not be in the best interests of the adult at risk. When this occurs the decision not to make further enquiries and the reasons for this should be recorded after discussion with the line-manager.

For example, an adult with physical disabilities has a large family, and is being cared for by a relative. The adult is repeatedly being reported to social services by the other members of the family who regard the care he receives as neglectful. The adult is deemed to have capacity, and regularly advises his social worker that the allegations about his carer are malicious and made by family members who do not get on with him and the carer. Moreover, there is no evidence of neglect. Regular meetings have been held between the adult considered to be at risk, the social worker and his family. The adult with physical disabilities finds the process distressing and tedious. Consequently, when a further report is made a decision is taken by social services not to make any further enquiries.

Pointers for Practice: Subjective Factors that can Influence the Response to a Report

Pointers for Practice: Eliciting Information During the Screening and Initial Evaluation - the Challenges

Clarifying next steps with the report-maker

At the end of any discussion about an adult at risk, both the social services report-taker and the practitioner making the report should be clear about:

All decisions should be recorded by social services using locally agreed formats.

Where a report is made to social services by telephone, the person making the report should confirm the report in writing within 24 hours. Once the written report has been received by social services, the person making the report should receive an acknowledgement within 7 working days. If they do not receive this, they should always contact social services again.

Anyone making a report of abuse or neglect about an adult at risk should be made aware that any subsequent enquiries might be conducted either jointly by the police and social services or as single agency (social services) enquiries.

Where social services decide not to take further action under s.126(2)(b) of the Social Services and Well-being Act (Wales) 2014 or re-directs the case to other sources of support that is more suitable, information, advice and assistance, feedback on the decision and the reasons for making it should be provided to the practitioner making the report.

Contacting the police following a report

The report-taker should contact the police immediately if the case reported constitutes, or may constitute, a criminal offence against an adult at risk. Examples when this should be considered include possible:

(This is not an exhaustive list)

If in doubt as to whether a criminal offence has been committed, contact the police for clarification regarding police involvement.

Reports out of usual office hours

Outside usual office hours, reports can be made to the social services out of hours service emergency duty team (EDT) or to the police.

All reports made to social services must be communicated by the out of hours staff (in writing and if possible also orally) to the relevant social services team the following day, together with the action taken.

In receiving the out of office hours report, the social worker or police officer must:

Being unable to make other checks should not prevent taking any necessary action to safeguard the adult at risk.

Arrangements should be in place for social workers to access legal advice out of hours.

Immediate protection and urgent action

Some reports will indicate that immediate protection and urgent action is required because the reported information identifies that an adult at risk, and potentially other adults and children, are at risk and need immediate protection. In these circumstances, agencies with the relevant protection powers (social services or the police) or with service responsibility (health or emergency services) must act quickly to secure the individual’s and others’ immediate safety.

For example: a woman with dementia is receiving support from her husband. Her husband has previously refused external support for his wife, but it has been acknowledged that he is suffering extreme stress in caring for her. Today, neighbours have heard him shouting at his wife and making statements that he will have to end things for both of them. He has tried to commit suicide previously, in his 60s when he suffered from depression after retiring. He has refused to allow the neighbours access to the house and merely shouts out that everything is ok when they call at the door. Bearing in mind his history and the extreme stress he is under currently, immediate action is required to protect the adult at risk and secure her immediate safety.