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Report a safeguarding concern

How to raise a concern about a vulnerable adult

If you think you or someone you know is being abused or neglected you should call the Adult Social Care Assessment & Intervention Team on 020 7364 5005 or call the Safeguarding Adults hotline on 020 7364 6085.

Calling the hotline to speak to a safeguarding professional is the quickest way to help a vulnerable adult. You can follow this up with an Safeguarding Alert Form if you like but it's not necessary. Email the form to adultcare@towerhamlets.gov.uk and we'll get back to you promptly.

Alternatively, you can visit your local library, One Stop Shop or leisure centre where staff can help you to report abuse.

But if you think a crime has been committed - and it’s an emergency situation - you should call 999. For non-emergencies call 101.

What to do if you witness abuse

If you see abuse happening or if you're concerned abuse may happen, try to do the following:

  • make sure that the person is safe
  • listen calmly to the person
  • talk reassuringly to the person
  • explain that, with their consent, they can get help and support
  • try to make an accurate report using the person's own words
  • describe the circumstances in which it occurred
  • keep the person informed of all follow-on proceedings
  • but in an emergency always call 999

What we'll do in response

We will:

  • take all concerns we receive seriously
  • take appropriate action regarding any imminent risk
  • try to talk to the adult at risk as soon as possible about what they want to happen and what support they may want to help keep them safe. If the person refuses help but others believe they may be at risk, we'll need to take appropriate action. But we will always keep the person at risk informed.
  • talk to the police if it's a criminal matter
  • talk to those involved and find out what happened
  • talk to other professionals who may need to be involved
  • gather relevant information to decide whether we need to take further action under Adult Safeguarding Procedures 

What is Safeguarding?

The Care Quality Commission defines safeguarding as "protecting people's health, well-being and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect."

In Tower Hamlets, this means the council and our partners working together to ensure that people with care and support needs feel safe and are free to make their own decisions.

Who needs Safeguarding?

Any adult who requires care and support (whether or not the council is meeting any of those needs) and;

  • is experiencing - or is at risk of - abuse or neglect
  • and, as a result of their care and support needs, is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.

Abuse might only happen once or it may happen many times over a period of time. Reoccurring cases of poor care might be an indicator of a more serious problem – for example organisational abuse. Whatever the case, it needs to be reported.

Abuse is an action that harms another person. We recognise the following as types of abuse (as set out in The Care Act 2014):

  • Physical abuse: including assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions
  • Domestic violence: including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse and so called ‘honour’ based violence
  • Sexual abuse: including rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting
  • Psychological abuse: including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying, isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks.
  • Financial or material abuse: including theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements - including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits
  • Modern slavery: encompassing slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment
  • Discriminatory abuse: including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment; because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion
  • Organisational abuse: including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting (such as a hospital or care home) or in relation to care provided in one’s own home. This may range from one-off incidents to ongoing ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation
  • Neglect and acts of omission: including ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs; failure to provide access to appropriate health care and support or educational services; the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating
  • Self-neglect: this covers a wide range of behaviour such as neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.

Where does abuse happen?

 Abuse can happen anytime and anywhere. This includes:

  • in somebody's own home
  • in someone else’s home
  • at a day centre
  • in care homes
  • in hospital
  • at work
  • at college
  • in a public place

Who might be an abuser?

An abuser is often a person who has a level of power over the person being abused (often they're well known to the person being abused). They could be a:

  • partner, relative or family member
  • neighbour
  • friend and/or another service user
  • carer
  • staff member
  • volunteer
  • stranger


Further information