Safeguarding Adults Advice and Guidance

This section explains what is abuse and neglect, the different types of abuse and what to do if you think you or someone you know may be being abused. There are contact details for organisations which may be able to provide support. This section also explains the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and   what you can do to plan for the time when you may not be able to make decisions for yourself.     

Safeguarding adults is the multi-agency procedure used to protect people from abuse or neglect. The procedures are specifically for those people who are over the age of 18 years of age who have care and support needs and are at risk of abuse of neglect and because of the care and support needs are unable to protect themselves.
This website provides information about safeguarding adults, and guidance to help you decide whether to raise a safeguarding concern.
Darlington Safeguarding Partnership has published an information leaflet which provides information about adults at risk of abuse and neglect, the kind of abuse that can happen, what to do if you have a concern about this and what happens when abuse is reported.
Darlington Safeguarding Partnership has a responsibility to help and protect adults (18 years and over) with care and support needs who are experiencing or are at risk of abuse or neglect. The Care Act (2014) [external link] tells us what we must do to safeguard adults.
We make sure that we listen to the views, wishes, feelings and beliefs of adults order to promote their wellbeing and we will always seek an outcome which improves the quality of life of the adult at the centre of the enquiry. This needs the commitment of agencies to follow the same policies and procedures.
The Statement of Government Policy on Adult Safeguarding (Department of Health) [PDF document] identifies six key principles of safeguarding practice and these are reinforced by the Care Act (2014):

• Empowerment
• Prevention
• Proportionality
• Protection
• Partnership
• Accountability

This website explains what abuse and neglect means, what you can do if you or someone you know is being abused or neglected and what may happen next. Information about safeguarding children (anyone under the age of 18) can be found at the Safeguarding Children Multi-Agency Procedures pages [internal link].

Abuse is any behaviour towards a person that deliberately or unknowingly causes harm. If an adult is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect it should not be ignored. If you suspect abuse or neglect report it. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.

Recognise it

SCIE Signs of Abuse [external link]

Abuse can happen in a number of ways. It can be:

  • Physical - assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical interventions
  • Sexual - rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual photography, or any unwanted sexual behaviours or exposure to sexual acts, where the person has not consented or were coerced which can include sexual exploitation
  • Psychological/Emotional - threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, being humiliated, being blamed, being controlled, being afraid or being devalued by others. Anything said or written which causes upset, fear or anxiety including intimidation
  • Neglect - failure to provide access to appropriate health care, ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, or withholding the necessities of life such as medication, adequate nutrition or heating
  • Discriminatory - harassment, slurs or similar treatment because of race, religion or belief, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, age or disability, for example, where a person may be targeted because of their disability, and become a victim of a hate crime or incident
  • Organisational - neglect or poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting, or in relation to care provided in a person’s own home. It can be through neglect, or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation this could be for example, inflexible routines or regimes
  • Financial - where there has been theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion into an adult's financial affairs including in connection with wills, property inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of money, property, possessions or benefits
  • Domestic Abuse - can take many forms and can include a range of types of abuse (see above) but can also include so called 'honour based violence' and forced marriage and coercive and controlling behaviour 
  • Modern Slavery - includes slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. This can involve deceiving and forcing individuals into a life of abuse, servitude, and inhumane treatment
  • Self-Neglect - this covers a wide range of behaviour, neglecting to care for one's personal hygiene, health or surroundings and can include behaviour such as hoarding

Who can harm or abuse?

Anyone can harm or abuse - a partner, friend or family member, or people in positions of trust such as staff or volunteers. The person(s) causing harm or abuse may be known to the adult being harmed, but they could also be a stranger.

Where does harm or abuse happen?

Abuse can happen anywhere, for example at home, work, college, in care settings, in hospitals or other health settings, or in public places.

What should you do?

If you know or think someone is being abused or you are being abused, you should tell someone. Everyone has a responsibility to keep people safe. Tell someone you can trust or report your concern to Adult Social Care Darlington-Safeguarding Partnership worried about an adult  [external link].

If you know or think someone is being abused or you are being abused, you should tell someone. Everyone has a responsibility to keep people safe. Tell someone you can trust or report your concern to Adult Social Care Darlington-Safeguarding Partnership worried about an adult  [external link].

Who Do I Contact?

You may want to tell someone that something is happening to you.
You may be concerned about someone, whether you are a relative, a neighbour or a member of the public. Someone may tell you something that has happened to them or you may see or hear something happening, that makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable.

The priority is to keep people safe from harm. It can be difficult to identify the seriousness of a concern when the abuse is first recognised but where there is any concern at all, this should be reported. We will respond to all concerns.

Report it

All reports are treated seriously. Police and Adult Social Care employees have a legal duty to make enquiries into the alleged abuse or neglect of adults at risk.

Darlington Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board has published a safeguarding poster explaining how members of the public can report abuse.

There are several ways you can report abuse. These include:


If someone is in immediate danger contact the police on 999

If the situation is not an emergency but a crime has been committed contact the police on 101.

Adult Contact Team (Adult Social Care at Darlington Borough Council)
You can explain that you wish to report a suspected case of adult abuse.

Telephone - 01325 406111
Fax - 01325 406824
Minicom - 01325 468504

If you require urgent help outside office hours, you can contact the Emergency Duty Team from 5pm on Friday to 9am on Monday and also on Bank holidays.

Telephone - 01642 524552
Minicom - 01642 602346

Practitioners can complete the Safeguarding Adults Concern Form and email to:

What happens next

When a concern is reported we will work with the adult at risk and anyone else they would like to be involved, this may be a partner, family member or friend or another appropriate representative.

Sometimes we may need to speak to other people to get or share more information. Sometimes the police may be involved if the person is in danger or a crime has been committed.

Sometimes we may hold a meeting to help us decide who should be involved. The adult at risk and anyone else they would like to be involved can take part in this meeting, and sometimes we just need to talk about the concern together, instead of a meeting.

At every point the adult at risk or a representative on their behalf will be involved. The adult at risk or their representative can tell us their views and wishes, what they want to happen, and what outcome they wish to achieve at any time. Sometimes, the person may need support from a family member, friend or advocate to help decide how to keep them safe, this will help us to plan to meet those needs. The person or their representative will always be fully involved in developing a plan to keep them safe, and how this may prevent and protect them from harm.

For any safeguarding concern it is important that the views and wishes of the adult at the centre of the enquiry are considered. If someone is in danger it is important that we make sure they are safe. It is important to talk about the concern and find out the best way to keep the person at risk or others safe.

Darlington Safeguarding Partnership has published a safeguarding leaflet to explain safeguarding to service users and the public.

There are several other organisations you can contact if you suspect abuse.

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic Abuse describes negative behaviours that one person exhibits over another within families or relationships. These patterns of behaviour can include threats, put-downs, isolation, violence and control. Sometimes domestic abuse can be called domestic violence.

Domestic abuse can take different forms, including:

  • Coercion and Control: repeatedly making someone feel bad or scared, stalking, blackmailing, constantly checking up on someone, playing mind games. Coercive control is now a criminal offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015
  • Physical abuse: pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, choking and using weapons
  • Sexual abuse: forcing or pressuring someone to have sex (rape), unwanted sexual activity, touching, groping someone or making them watch pornography
  • Financial abuse: taking money, controlling finances, not letting someone work
  • Emotional abuse
  • Digital / online abuse: using technology to further isolate, humiliate or control someone
  • Honour-Based Violence and Forced Marriage

Everyone has the right to live in safety free from the fear of abuse. If you or someone you know is affected see the Refuge website for more information about domestic abuse and how to access help and support.

The Domestic Abuse Offender Disclosure Scheme (DAODS) (also known as Clare's Law) was established following the inquest of the murder of Clare Wood when it was highlighted the she would not have been in a relationship with her killer if she had known about his abusive past with previous partners. The scheme allows people to make inquiries about their partner if you are worried that they may have been abusive in the past. Further details are available on the Durham Constabulary website.  

The Darlington Community Safety Partnership has produced a leaflet Domestic Violence and your Workplace providing advice to employers on how to respond if an employee is experiencing Domestic Abuse with useful contacts and helplines.

Other useful contacts:

Harbour Support Services

Telephone - 03000 202 525 (24hrs) 

Freephone National Domestic Violence helpline

Telephone- 0808 2000 247

Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre

Telephone-01325 369 933 

Family Help Darlington  

Telephone - 01325 364 486

HALO Project - Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage and FGM 

Telephone 01642 683 045

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Male Victims of Domestic Abuse: advice and support for men who experience abuse

We recognise that men can also be victims of Domestic Abuse, both in heterosexual and gay relationships. Everyone has the right to live in safety, free from fear, regardless of their gender but unfortunately it can be more difficult for men to access help and support services. 

Refuge runs a number of services for male victims of domestic violence across the country. These are primarily independent domestic violence advocacy and outreach services, which provide practical and emotional support for men who are experiencing domestic violence.

You can also call the ManKind Intitative on 01823 334244 for specialist support or contact the Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 (24hr helpline).

The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre

The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre aims to provide a sensitive and comprehensive service to residents of County Durham and Darlington who have experienced rape or sexual assault. Our free services are available to both females and males. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, staff at The Meadows are there to help you recover physically and emotionally. Many women and men experience difficulties in coming to terms with their ordeal and in carrying on with their everyday life afterwards. There is no right or wrong way to respond in situations of sexual violence - it is important that you try to begin to feel safe again and be able to make your own decisions. The Meadows can offer a forensic medical examination, advice, support, counselling and sexual health screening, and we aim to provide help as soon as you feel ready, whether you wish to report the assault to the police or not. If you do decide to report to the police, we can help you do so. The Meadows is furnished and decorated to provide comfortable, safe surroundings and is located approximately 4 miles outside of Durham City centre, with another smaller premises located in Darlington town centre.

Contact The Meadows on 0191 372 9202.  An answer machine is available outside office hours.
For 24 hour Crisis Support Service and Referrals contact 03333 448 283.

You can also contact RSACC Durham and Darlington which provides rape and sexual assault counselling - free confidential counselling and support for women who have experienced any form of sexual violence.  

Telephone - 01325 369 933

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not or cannot (owing to learning disability or mental capacity) consent to the marriage and where duress is used. ‘Duress’ includes psychological, sexual, financial or emotional pressure and physical violence.

Forced marriage is a violation of human rights and is seen in the UK as a form of domestic violence and/or child abuse. It may affect girls, boys, women and men from any community or background. However, existing statistics show that greater numbers of women are affected. Forcing someone to marry without their consent is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty is seven years imprisonment.

It is unlawful to:

  • take someone overseas to force them to marry(whether or not the forced marriage takes place) 
  • to marry someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not)

You could be a victim of forced marriage if:

  • you do not say YES to getting married
  • you were not consulted or aware that you were getting married
  • your family or extended family used emotional pressure and/or physical violence to make you agree to marriage
  • you have been forced to stay in confinement and have not been allowed to discuss your marriage with anyone.

You could be at risk of forced marriage if:

  • your family is arranging your marriage without your approval
  • your official papers or passport have been taken away 
  • you are being taken abroad and you are not sure why
  • you have been told you must leave education

If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know you need specialist advice and support. Contact the Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 and check out the Forced marriage | Refuge website for more information on this subject and other related matters.

You can also contact the Forced Marriage Unit on or 020 70080 151

Financial Abuse is another name for stealing or defrauding someone of goods and/or property. It is always a crime but is not always prosecuted. Sometimes the issue is straightforward, for example a care worker stealing from an older person’s purse, but at other times it is more difficult to address. This is because very often the perpetrator can be someone’s son or daughter, or age prejudice means that other people assume it is not happening or that the older person is to blame. 

For further information see the Action on Elder Abuse website.

Financial Abuse can also include elaborate and convincing telephone scams. A scam is a dishonest scheme used by criminals to trick people out of their money. Your personal details (such as name, address, passwords, account numbers and date of birth) are high on scammers’ wish lists, as they provide a route to your cash. Stealing personal details is known as ID fraud. With this information, it’s possible for fraudsters to take money from your bank, go on a spending spree with your cards, open new accounts in your name or even make false insurance claims.

Scammers are convincing liars who use every trick in the book to make their scams sound plausible. They are ruthless and don’t care who they hurt along the way. If a scammer gets lucky – targeting the right person, in the right way, at the right time – anyone could fall victim to a scam.

Scammers might be individuals, but often they are organised gangs who work full time thinking up new and inventive ways to con innocent people out of their cash. They might approach potential targets by phone, post, online or even by visiting them at home.

For more information about recognising telephone scams and what to do see Which? Scams aimed at older people

Contact the Police on 101 if you think that you may have been targeted by a scammer.  

Doorstep Crime- see Durham Constabulary website for advice and guidance on bogus callers, rogue traders and doorstep crime. 


What is 'Mate Crime'? There is no statutory definition of 'mate crime' in UK law. The term is generally understood to refer to the befriending of people who are perceived by perpetrators to be vulnerable, for the purposes of taking advantage of them or exploiting and abusing them. This can be strongly associated (though not exclusively) with people who have a learning disability, learning difficulties or a mental health condition.

'Mate crime' involves additional and complex issues which sometimes resonate with cases of domestic abuse. The perpetrator is likely to be seen as a close friend, a carer or family member who uses the relationship for exploitation.

For further information and advice see ARC  

What is Mental Capacity?

If you have mental capacity it means that you are able to make your own decisions. The legal definition says that someone who lacks capacity cannot do one or more of the following four things:

  • understand the information given to them
  • retain that information long enough to make a decision
  • weigh up the information available to make a decision
  • communicate their decision

We all have problems making decisions from time to time, but the Mental Capacity Act is about more than that. It is specifically designed to cover situations where someone is unable to make a decision because the way their mind or brain works or is affected, for instance by illness or disability or the effects of drugs or alcohol.
A lack of mental capacity could be due to:

  • a stroke or brain injury
  • a mental health problem 
  • dementia
  • a learning disability
  • confusion, drowsiness or unconsciousness because of an illness of treatment   

In any of these instances a person may lack mental capacity to make particular decisions at a particular time. It does not necessarily mean they lack mental capacity to make any decisions at all.
For example, a person with a learning disability may lack the capacity to make major decisions but this does not necessarily mean that they cannot decide what to eat, wear and do each day. A person with mental health problems may be unable to make decisions when they are unwell, but able to make them when they are well.
If a person lacks mental capacity to make a particular decision then it will need to be made in their 'best interests', taking into the persons wishes, feelings, beliefs and values.

Mental Capacity Act 2005: a guide.  

National Mental Capacity Forum - Mental Capacity Act Competency Framework [external link]

The purpose of the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate is to help people who lack the mental capacity to make important decisions and, at the time such decisions need to be made, have no-one else (other than paid staff) to support or represent them or be consulted.

An IMCA can only be appointed by an NHS body or the local authority; and only in very specific circumstances that have been established in law. These are:

  • an NHS body is proposing to provide serious medical treatment
  • an NHS body or local authority is proposing to arrange accommodation (or change of accommodation) in hospital or a care home
  • an application for Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) is being made
  • Care Reviews
  • safeguarding adults (this may be possible in some circumstances, even if family, friends or others are already involved)

There are specific criteria for when a referral should be made to an IMCA in each of these circumstances. For more information about refer to the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate: a guide.  

The Mental Capacity Act sets out a range of ways by which people can plan for a time when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that, in the event that a person later becomes unable to make certain decisions, lets a trusted person make these decisions on their behalf. These replace Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA), although EPA's that have already been set up can still be registered.

There are two different types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA):

  • Health and welfare - which allows a person to choose one or more people to make decisions about things such as medical treatment on their behalf.
  • Property and financial affairs - which allows a person to choose one or more people to make property and financial affairs decisions on their behalf.

The Mental Capacity Act also provides for Advanced Decisions (also known as Advanced Directives) to Refuse Treatment. This enables someone to plan ahead and refuse specified medical treatment in the future, for a time when they lack the mental capacity to consent or refuse that treatment. Where these are valid and applicable, they have the same effect as a decision that is made by a person with capacity.

Action on Elder Abuse  UK Helpline - 0808 808 8141

Age UK Advice Line telephone 0800 678 1602 

Age UK Darlington telephone 0300 30 20 100 

Care Quality Commission telephone - 03000 616161 

Citizens Advice Bureau (Darlington) telephone - 0300 0330 1195

Domestic Abuse Contacts:

Darlington Domestic and Sexual Abuse Directory telephone - 01325 364 486

Family Help Darlington-telephone 01325 364 486

Harbour Support Services- telephone - 03000 202 525

Domestic Violence and your Workplace (leaflet) guidance for employers.

Male Victims of Domestic Abuse - telephone 01823 334244

National Domestic Abuse Helpline- provides information about how to survive or leave situations of domestic violence and can put you in contact with a national network of safe houses for women experiencing domestic violence.
24 hour Helpline - 0808 2000 247

Panah Black Women's Refuge (Tyneside) -telephone 0191 284 6998

HALO Project - Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage and FGM - telephone 01642 683 045


A charity working with people with a learning disability and their families and carers.
Telephone - 0808 808 1111


The Mental Health Charity

Telephone - 0300 123 3393 (national) or 01325 384 247 (local)

National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC)

A national charity dedicated to helping adult survivors of childhood abuse.
Telephone - 0808 801 0331

RSACC Durham and Darlington

Rape and Sexual Assault Counselling - free confidential counselling and support for women who have experienced any form of sexual violence.  

Telephone - 01325 369 933

The Meadows -Sexual Assault Referral Centre 

The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre aims to provide a sensitive and comprehensive service to residents of County Durham and Darlington who have experienced rape or sexual assault. This free service is available to both women and men.  

Telephone- 0191 372 9202

24 hr crisis support service and referrals 03333 448 283


You can get in touch about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how large or small the issue feels.

Telephone - 116 123 (calls are free)

Survivors UK

Provides information, support and counselling for men who have been sexually abused.

Telephone 020 359 83898

True Vision

To report Hate Crime on-line 

Victim Care and Advice Service

A service for victims of crime

Telephone - 0303 040 1099