Information about safeguarding adults and child protection

If you are concerned about the safety of a child at risk of abuse, harm or neglect, please call Customer First on 0808 800 4005 at any time.

If you are concerned about an adult please complete an Adult Safeguarding referral form (for less urgent referrals only). If you feel they are in immediate danger please call 0808 800 4005 rather than completing this form, or dial 999 in an emergency.

What is abuse?

There are many types of abusive behaviour, some of which are difficult to spot. Abuse can include:

  • Domestic violence – abuse that takes place between family members or intimate partners regardless of gender or sexuality. It can include psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse and so called ‘honour’ based violence
  • Sexual abuse – any sexual act that a person does not agree to
  • Psychological or emotional – this is when someone makes threats of harm, abandonment, humiliation, intimidation or verbal abuse
  • Financial - this include stealing someone’s money or denying them access to their money, property or possessions
  • Neglect or acts of omission – this can be both physical and emotional. It could be failing to keep an adult at risk clean or warm, not promoting optimum health, not providing adequate nutrition or medication. It could also mean preventing someone from making their own choices
  • Discriminatory - abusive remarks or actions relating to a person’s age, race, religion, sex or abilities
  • Organisational abuse - this happens when the routines in use force residents or service users to sacrifice their own needs, wishes or preferred lifestyle to the needs of the institution or service provider
  • Modern slavery – such as human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude

For further details, including indicators of abuse, please see the Adult Safeguarding Policy and Operational Guidance on the SAB website

Find out more about safeguarding in this easy read booklet called What is safeguarding? (PDF, 1MB) 

Who could be an abuser?

Adults at risk may be abused by anyone, including relatives, carers, professional staff, care staff, volunteers, neighbours, friends or other service users.

Institutions and services can be guilty of abuse if they persistently fail to take account of the needs of the people using that service or do not provide the staffing or equipment to enable people’s needs to be met adequately and safely.

Professional status or title does not guarantee safety. There are many recent examples of professionals being responsible for abuse.

More than one person may abuse an adult at risk and some sources of risk will abuse more than one alleged victim.

It can be difficult to understand why anyone would want to abuse an older person, someone with a physical or learning disability, or someone who is unwell. In some instances the abuse may not have been deliberate, malicious or premeditated. It can happen when people are trying to do their best but are unaware of what is the right thing to do.

When is an Adult Safeguarding Enquiry made?

Suffolk County Council has a duty to make an enquiry, or cause others to do so when:

  • an adult has care and support needs
  • there is a suspicion abuse or neglect has occurred or is likely to
  • an adult is unable to safeguarding themselves due to care and support needs

An enquiry is action taken in response to a concern, before a formal enquiry under Section 42 of the Care Act is undertaken.

Safeguarding Boards

Social Care Services have a lead role in assisting, supporting and protecting the most vulnerable children, young people and adults in our community.


In the light of the Care Act 2014, the Suffolk Safeguarding Adults Board holds a statutory role in supporting, coordinating and overseeing the delivery and quality of multi-agency adult safeguarding activity in Suffolk. The Board's website provides a wide range of information on the work of the Board as well as published reports, information and guidance. 


All the key child protection policies and guidance that agencies must follow to keep children safe in the county is available on the Suffolk Safeguarding Children Board website. They explain what is expected of everybody when there is a concern about a child's safety, what they should do, who they should contact and how. The procedures apply to all children up to the age of 18 years including unborn babies.