Under Section 42 of the Care Act 2014, local authorities must make enquiries, or ensure others do so, if it believes an adult is subject to, or at risk of, abuse or neglect. An enquiry should establish whether any action needs to be taken to stop or prevent abuse or neglect, and if so, by whom.

An enquiry is the action taken or instigated by the local authority in response to a concern that abuse or neglect may be taking place. The objectives of the enquiry into abuse and neglect are to:

  • Establish facts
  • Ascertain the individual’s views and wishes to seek consent
  • Assess the needs of the Adult for protection, support and redress; and
  • Make decisions as to what follow-up action should be taken with regard to the person responsible, or the organisation, for the abuse or neglect

An enquiry can be taken or instigated in a number of ways and should establish whether any further action needs to be taken to stop abuse or neglect and if so by whom. An enquiry could be:

  • A conversation/communication with the Adult
  • Contact with a representative or advocate
  • Contact with a relative, service provider, professional
  • A formal multi-agency meeting, plan or similar course of action
  • A meeting of key individuals (formal and informal)
  • An action delegated to a partner agency in light of their expertise, involvement or any duty they may have to act


In accordance with the Care Act 2014, safeguarding duties apply to an adult who:

  • Has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs);
  • Is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect;
  • As a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect

Those adults eligible for support under these safeguarding procedures are those who are aged 18 years and over and who are, or may be eligible, to receive support from social care or health services and who may be unable to take care of themselves, or be unable to protect themselves against serious harm or exploitation and whose independence and wellbeing would be, or is at risk if they did not receive appropriate health or social care support.

An Adult at Risk may be a person who:

  • Is elderly and frail due to ill health, physical disability or cognitive impairment
  • Has a learning disability
  • Has a physical disability and/or a sensory impairment
  • Has mental health needs including dementia or a personality disorder
  • Has a long-term illness/condition
  • Misuses substances or alcohol
  • Is under the psychological and physical control or coercion from another individual or individuals due to a domestic abuse situation
  • Is a carer such as a family member/friend who provides personal assistance and care to adults and is subject to abuse
  • Is unable to demonstrate the capacity to make a decision and is in need of care and support
  • Is in a position of dependency on others
  • Is socially isolated

This list is not exhaustive and individuals are advised not to limit their view of what may constitute an adult with needs for care and support.