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How to report adult safeguarding concerns

Safeguarding is aimed at anybody aged 18 or over who has care and support needs and who is unable to protect themselves from either the risk or the experience of abuse or neglect

Local services must work together to safeguard adults in a way that supports them to make choices and have control about how they want to live.

How to report adult safeguarding concerns

If you think a crime is being or has been committed, or someone is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

If you have urgent concerns that you or someone you know, is being abused or neglected, you can contact the safeguarding adults team at Waltham Forest Direct on 020 8496 3000.

Your call will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Otherwise, please complete our online referral form to raise a safeguarding concern.

If you don't have access to a computer, you can visit a Library Plus branch where you can use a self-service computer to log your request or report. Staff are available to support you if you need it.​​​​​​​

If you're concerned about yourself

Your safeguarding concern will be passed to adult social care who will contact you to talk about it.

We’ll discuss what you want to happen, whether you have someone to support you or whether an advocate is needed to help you explain what you need.

We may have to collect more information so we can decide if a section 42 enquiry is needed or, if there’s another action that should be taken.

If you're concerned about someone else

If you’re concerned about someone else, we may need to collect more information so we can decide if what we call a ‘section 42 enquiry’ is needed. 

We’ll need to find out if the person you are concerned about has capacity to consent to the safeguarding process and whether they require an advocate to support them. 

When you raise the safeguarding concern we’ll agree how to provide you with feedback about your concern. There may be some situations where we’re unable to fully disclose information to you, such as if the matter becomes a criminal investigation.

What is a section 42 enquiry?

A section 42 enquiry relates to the duty of the Local Authority to make enquiries, or have others do so, if an adult may be at risk of abuse or neglect. This happens whether or not the authority is providing any care and support services to that adult. It aims to decide what, if any, action is needed to help and protect the adult. 

The scale of the enquiry, who leads it, the format it takes and how long, will depend on the particular circumstances.

It will usually start with asking the adult about their view and wishes, which will often determine what next steps to take.

Everyone involved in an enquiry must focus on improving the adult's wellbeing and work together to that shared aim. At this stage, the local authority also has a duty to consider whether the adult requires an independent advocate to represent and support the adult in the enquiry.

The objectives of an enquiry into abuse or neglect are to:

  • establish facts
  • ascertain the adult's views and wishes
  • assess the needs of the adult for protection or support and redress, and how they might be met
  • protect the person from the abuse and neglect, in accordance with the wishes of the adult
  • make decisions about what follow-up action should be taken with the person or organisation responsible for the abuse or neglect
  • enable the adult to achieve resolution and recovery

An enquiry could range from a conversation with the adult, or their representative or advocate, prior to initiating a formal enquiry under section 42, right through to a much more formal multi-agency plan or course of action.

What happens as a result of the enquiry should reflect the adult's wishes wherever possible, as stated by them or by their representative or advocate.

If the adult lacks capacity to engage with the process, any decision made must be in their best interests and be a proportionate response to the concern.

Independent advocacy

The local authority will arrange for an independent advocate to represent and support a person who is the subject of a safeguarding enquiry or a safeguarding adult review, if they need help to understand or to express their views, wishes, or feelings.

If an individual is felt to be lacking capacity to engage with the safeguarding process, a Mental Capacity Assessment will be completed to see if they’re able to make their own decisions about their protection. If not, a Best Interest Decision will be made on how to proceed. You can find out about the Mental Capacity Act on the NHS Choices website.

What is a safeguarding plan?

The aim of a safeguarding plan is to assist the person to live the life they want, with support and protection if needed, so they can manage the risks they choose to take. A safeguarding plan could include enabling the adult to achieve resolution or recovery.

Once we have the facts we need, further discussions with the adult or their representative will be needed to decide whether a safeguarding plan is required.

The enquiry may lead to a number of outcomes, depending on the circumstances, including possible criminal prosecution if abuse or neglect is proven. In other cases, where there is risk of abuse, we may find that the adult has other care and support needs.  This could require different services and may lead to a needs assessment or review of an existing care and support plan. This can happen whether the allegation is true or otherwise, as many enquiries may be inconclusive.

If additional assessments are agreed then the decision making and planning must be jointly discussed with the concerned adult.  This is to ensure their future safety and wellbeing. We’ll ensure that they’re fully involved and informed about any decisions that may have to be made against their wishes.

If a safeguarding plan is required we’ll agree a time to review this, to ensure that the plan is working for them.

If a section 42 enquiry is not required, we’ll discuss how best to proceed with the concerns raised. This may include pursuing a complaint, or a referral to another organisation for information or support.


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