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Identify relevant legislation, national policies and local systems that relate to safeguarding and protection from abuse


To protect individuals from abuse, it is useful to have an awareness of UK law, policies and procedures as well as local systems that relate to the safeguarding of adults.




The primary legislation (laws) that protect adults from abuse are:

  • The Equality Act 2010 – protects individuals from discriminatory abuse
  • The Human Rights Act 1998 – sets out specific rights and freedoms of all people such as the right to liberty and security and the freedom from slavery and forced labour
  • The Care Act 2014 – wide-ranging legislation that includes:
    • made the local authority responsible for following up suspicions or allegations of abuse
    • established multidisciplinary Safeguarding Adults Boards (SABs) to review cases when people die as a result of abuse or neglect – states that organisations must work in partnership
    • identified the ten types of abuse
    • emphasised promoting the safety and wellbeing of individuals to protect them
  • Health and Social Care Act 2012 – established health and wellbeing boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and legislates that agencies must work in partnership to protect individuals from abuse
  • The Mental Capacity Act 2005 – protects individuals that do not have the capacity to make their own choices where they can
  • Mental Health Act 1983 – established rights of individuals with mental health needs
  • Data Protection Act 2018 (inc. GDPR) – regulates how personal data is handled to decrease the likelihood of abuse occurring as a result of personal information falling into the wrong hands
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 – protects vulnerable individuals by ensuring that workers that have contact with them (e.g. care workers etc.) have had relevant background checks (Disclosure and Barring Service)
  • Modern Slavery Act 2015 – tackles, human trafficking, exploitation, modern slavery, domestic servitude and forced labour
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Act 2003 – made FGM or the assisting with performing FGM illegal

National policies

National policy also has a role to play in safeguarding vulnerable adults. Such policies include:

  • The Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice – Guidance about how to use the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to promote the rights of individuals
  • Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) – Amends the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to make it lawful to use restraint/restrictions only if it is in an individual’s best interests
  • Code of Conduct for Healthcare Support Workers and Adult Social Care Workers in England – provides best practice guidance for adult care workers
  • Professional Registration Bodies – e.g. for doctors, nurses, social workers etc.
  • Care Quality Commission (CQC) – the government agency that has the duty to regulate, inspect and rate all providers of care – see fundamental standards of care
  • Making Safeguarding Personal (Local Government Association) – aims to develop an outcomes-based approach to safeguarding

Local systems


The principles of safeguarding at a national level drip down into local systems that are on the front line in the prevention of abuse towards vulnerable adults. Some of these local systems include:

  • Local authorities – have the lead role in making enquiries when there are suspicions or allegations of abuse
  • Safeguarding Adults Boards (SABs)– a multi-agency team led by local authorities that head safeguarding in their region and formally look into cases where individuals die as a result of abuse to identify how it may have been prevented (Safeguarding Adults Review or SAR)
  • Local constabulary – uphold the law and investigate criminal acts
  • Agreed ways of working – all health and social care providers should have robust policies and procedures for protecting individuals from abuse (e.g. safeguarding policy, whistleblowing policy etc.)

The roles of the different agencies that will work in partnership to protect and safeguard individuals from abuse are discussed here.


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