Adults at risk

How to report suspected abuse

In an emergency you should: 

Email the completed forms to [email protected] 

Download guidance on completing the duty to report form (pdf)

Please be assured that everything you say will be treated sensitively and followed up by experienced staff who will take action to ensure that you, or the person being abused, is protected 

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 creates a new legal system for social services and came into effect in April 2016.

The Act defines an 'adult at risk' as someone who:   

  1. is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect 
  2. needs care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs), and 
  3. as a result of these needs is unable to protect themselves against abuse, neglect or the risk of either


Abuse is mistreatment by any other person or persons that violates a person's human and civil rights.

Abuse can range from treating someone with disrespect in a way which significantly affects the person's quality of life, to causing actual physical suffering.

Abuse can happen anywhere, in a residential or nursing home, a hospital, the workplace, day centre or educational establishment, supported housing, the street or at home and can include: 

  • Physical abuse such as hitting, pushing, pinching, shaking, misusing medication, scalding, hair pulling
  • Sexual abuse such as forcing someone into unwanted sexual activity, being touched inappropriately, rape, sexual assault, or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not or could not have consented, or to which they were pressurised into consenting
  • Psychological or emotional abuse such as intimidation, being threatened, being ignored on purpose, humiliation, blaming, controlling, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, being prevented from friends or family visiting or being prevented from receiving services or support.
  • Financial abuse such as stealing someone's money or spending it on the wrong things, putting pressure on someone to make changes to their will or spend their money against their wishes, fraud or exploitation, pressure in connection with property, inheritance, misuse of property, possessions or benefits.
  • Neglect such as ignoring medical or physical care needs, preventing access to health, social care or educational services, not caring for someone properly, not providing adequate food, putting them at risk.

Domestic violence / abuse is a serious crime with traumatic and sometimes life–threatening consequences. Domestic abuse is any form of abuse involving relatives or intimate relationships . 

Honour based violence is a violent crime or incident which may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family of community.

Abuse can be either deliberate or the result of ignorance, lack of training, knowledge or understanding.

It is often the case that a person is being abused in more than one way.

Abuse always falls into one of the five categories above but other forms of abuse can include:

Modern slavery 

Previously called 'human trafficking', modern slavery is a hidden, widespread, international crime.

Criminals exploit vulnerable individuals by pressuring them into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

Poverty and limited opportunities in their home country can contribute to the trafficking of victims into and through the UK.

Report potential victims of modern slavery

Forced marriage 

Forced marriage is defined as a marriage conducted without the valid consent of both parties, where one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of some vulnerable adults, cannot) consent to the marriage and duress is involved.

Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure.

Discrimination and hate crime

Discrimination and hate crime may be features of any form of abuse of a vulnerable adult but can also be motivated because of their age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, class, culture, language, race or ethnic origin.

Report hate crime

Institutional abuse

Institutional abuse can occur in institutions as a result of regimes, routines, practices and behaviours that occur in services that vulnerable adults live in or use and which violate their human rights. 

People who abuse

The person who is responsible for the abuse is very often well known to the person abused and could be:

  • a paid carer or volunteer
  • a health worker, social care or other worker
  • a relative, partner, friend or neighbour
  • another resident or service user
  • an occasional visitor or someone who is providing a service, e.g. a mobile hairdresser
  • people who deliberately exploit vulnerable people 

Further information

Safeguarding adults at risk (pdf)

Keeping yourself safe from harm (pdf)

When you have been abused (pdf)

When an allegation has been made against you (pdf)

When an allegation has been made (for staff and care workers) (pdf) 

Visit the Gwent Safeguarding Board website