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.

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.

Report an adult at risk

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

Call 01467 533100 the Adult Protection network if it is less urgent or email

You can use our online form or fill out the Word version of the form (DOCX 45KB) to make a referral - a request for an assessment of needs.

Call 03456 08 12 06 our out of hours emergency service which is available through the night and at weekends.

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.

What happens next

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

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.

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 person has been abused.

Who are adults at risk

An adult is 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 people 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.

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

Watch our video about the importance of adult protection:

What is harm

Harm includes all hurtful conduct, particularly:

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

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

Support and advice

If you have concerns about an adult call:

If you are worried about yourself, or someone else, and need to speak to someone these helplines can provide support:

National organisations for investigating social care and welfare concerns:

Further adult protection information is available on the Act Against Harm website.