If you see, hear or suspect that an adult may be at risk of abuse or neglect, you must tell someone about it. If they are in immediate danger contact the police on 999. Otherwise contact Care Direct on 0345 155 1007 or email
Care Direct is open to take calls between 8.00am and 8.00pm Monday to Friday and from 9.00am to 1.00pm on Saturdays. Outside these hours and on Sundays and Bank Holidays, in emergency only, please contact our Emergency Duty Service on 0845 6000 388 (low-call rate).
Who is an adult at risk of abuse or neglect
An adult at risk is someone over 18 years old who:
- has care and support needs
- is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect
- as a result of their care and support needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.
If someone has care and support needs but is not currently receiving care or support from a health or care service they may still be an adult at risk.
Safeguarding Adults Referral Form
Where an adult is, or may be, at risk of harm from abuse or neglect then a Safeguarding Adult referral can be made to Care Direct using this form. Please note that this referral form is for adults who are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect within the geographical boundaries of Devon County Council.
If someone is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect, and within the boundaries of another local authority you will need to contact the relevant Safeguarding Child Service (if they are under eighteen) or Safeguarding Adult Service (if they are eighteen or over).
Adults who are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect within the geographical boundaries of Torbay must be referred to Torbay: https://www.torbayandsouthdevon.nhs.uk/services/safeguarding-adults/safeguarding-adults-board/
Adults who are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect within the geographical boundaries of Plymouth must be referred to Plymouth: https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/adultcareandhealth/reportadultabuseorneglect
The following descriptions of types of abuse and neglect can help decide whether someone is at risk:
Including assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions.
Including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; so called ‘honour’ based violence.
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.
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.
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.
Encompasses 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.
Including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment; because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.
Including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, for example, or in relation to care provided in one’s own home. This may range from one off incidents to on-going ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.
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
This covers a wide range of behaviour including neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.
People who neglect themselves can often be at risk of other forms of abuse and exploitation.
What will happen when I report a safeguarding adults concern?
You will be asked to provide as much information as possible. We will then follow our guidance on deciding when and how to carry out a safeguarding adults enquiry.
A decision on whether a reported concern requires a safeguarding adults enquiry will usually be taken within 2 working days. There are limitations on what personal information can be shared with other people but wherever possible you will be informed of the outcome of reporting your concern as soon as possible. Taking action to protect people at risk will be given the first priority.