Adult protection and support

We all know that children need to be protected but sometimes adults, due to their vulnerabilities, need to be protected too. Adult protection is everyone's responsibility:

What you need to know

It isn't always the case that adults are able to protect and care for themselves. Some adults are particularly vulnerable to harm. All citizens, organisations and agencies have a responsibility for adult protection.

In Aberdeenshire, the Grampian adult protection procedures give organisations and individuals guidance on reporting and responding to situations where it is suspected, alleged or known that a vulnerable adult has been abused. 

Watch our advertising campaign about the importance of adult protection:

What to do and who to contact

If you're being harmed, or are concerned that someone you know may be at risk of harm, you should speak to someone about it.

Our Supporting and protecting adult from harm leaflet (pdf 952KB) has advice on who to contact if you have concerns about the wellbeing of an adult at risk. This is an accessible version with picture symbols for adults with communication difficulties.

It's everyone’s responsibility to play a part in adult protection and the protection of vulnerable people. Information and advice will be offered so that the person and their family can decide what practical help they need, or what action they wish to take. If they are unable to make a decision, care will be taken to support and protect them.

Call the police on 999 if you, or the person being harmed, is in immediate danger.

If it is less urgent, call the Adult Protection network on 01467 533100 or e-mail

You can also make a referral using our online form or fill out the Word version of the form (docx 75KB).

You can contact our emergency out of hours social work service on 03456 08 12 06. This service is available through the night and at weekends.

We have a duty to investigate an alleged incident of harm. The investigation will be handled sensitively and the adult's wishes are considered. If the concerns are serious, we'll act immediately to make sure the adult at risk is safe. 

The rights of every individual

Every individual has a right to:

  • a life free from fear
  • be treated with dignity
  • have their choice respected and not be forced to do anything against their will 

Who are adults at risk?

“Adult” means an individual aged 16 or over. Adults at risk have additional support needs and are dependent on others. They might be:

  • older people who are dependent on the help of others
  • people with learning disabilities
  • people with a physical or sensory impairment
  • people with mental health problems
  • people unable to protect themselves from serious harm or being taken advantage of
  • people who are controlled or suppressed by dominant partners 

Most adults with additional support needs manage to live their lives comfortably and securely, either independently or with help from caring relatives, friends, neighbours, professionals or volunteers. However, for a small number, dependence on someone may produce conflict, exploitation and harm. 

What is harm?

“Harm” includes all hurtful conduct, particularly:

  • conduct causing physical harm - including that of a sexual nature
  • conduct causing psychological harm - eg by causing fear, alarm or distress
  • unlawful conduct which appropriates or adversely affects property, rights or interests - eg theft, fraud, embezzlement or extortion
  • conduct causing self-harm 

Where does harm take place?

Any adult at risk can experience harm, or be at risk of harm, in their own home, care homes, day services or hospitals.

What support is available?

If you are, or if you are caring for, an adult at risk we can provide a range of services which help people to stay independent in their own home or local community. Services such as home care, meals at home, sheltered housing, supported living, and help finding and keeping a job.

If you, or the person you are caring for, feel you need our support we'll do an assessment of needs to decide what services you're eligible to get. 

Useful websites and contact numbers

Police Scotland Service Centre (routine contact)
In case of emergency
Aberdeenshire Adult Protection
Aberdeen City Adult Protection
Moray Adult Protection
Grampian NHS
Advocacy North East
Age Scotland Silverline
Action on Elder Abuse Helpline
Care Inspectorate 0345 600 9527
Mental Welfare Commission 0800 389 6809
Office of Public Guardian Scotland 01324 678300
Scottish Women's Aid
Act Against Harm  
Breathing Space 0800 838587


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