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

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

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 an freedoms of all people such as the right to liberty and security and the freedom from slavery and forced labour
  • The Care Act 2014 – makes the local authority responsible for following up suspicions or allegations of abuse and setting up multidisciplinary boards to review cases when people die as a result of abuse or neglect
  • The Mental Capacity Act 2005 – protects individuals that do not have the capacity to make choices for themselves
  • Data Protection Act 2018 (inc. GDPR) – regulates how personal data is handled to decrease 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)

National policies

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

  • The Government Statement of Policy on Adult Safeguarding – guidance document and a set of principles from the government that is used by local agencies (e.g. local authorities, NHS etc.) to develop their own policies
  • Prevention in Safeguarding – guidance on the prevention of abuse by the SCIE
  • Care Quality Commission (CQC) – government agency that has the duty to regulate, inspect and rate all providers of care

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 – multidisciplinary team led by local authorities that formally look into cases where individuals die as a result of abuse to identify how it may have been prevented
  • Agreed ways of working – all heath and social care providers should have robust policies and procedures for protecting individuals from abuse (e.g. safeguarding policy, whistleblowing policy etc.)
  • Police – the police have a duty to protect individuals from abuse
  • Care workers – similarly, all care workers have the duty to report their concerns, following agreed ways of working

Example question and answer

What are the National and Local Contexts of Safeguarding and Protection from Abuse?

There are a number of different agencies, policies and systems that have important roles to play in safeguarding vulnerable people.

On a national level, legislation acts as the framework within which all other groups can operate lawfully. This includes:

  • The Care Act 2014 – makes safeguarding a corporate duty for local councils (supersedes No Secrets Policy Document 2000.
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 – helps prevent unsuitable persons from gaining access to vulnerable people through their work.
  • Health & Social Care Act 2008 – regulations for the health and social care industry
  • Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 – protects whistle-blowers from victimisation

Several national agencies have sprung up as a result of the above legislation being passed. For example, the Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) was formed after the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act came into force and it is their responsibility to keep a database of people that are deemed unsafe to work with vulnerable adults and children so that employers can make informed recruitment decisions. Also, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) came about following the passing of the Health & Social Care Act 2008. It is CQC’s responsibility to ensure organisations that provide care services are meeting national standards.

The Metropolitan Police are another national organisation that have a role to play in safeguarding vulnerable adults. It is their responsibility to investigate claims of abuse.

There are also agencies that operate on a local level to help safeguard vulnerable adults, including:

  • In Warwickshire, the Adult Social Care Team can be contacted on 01926 410 410 during office hours.
  • At other times, the Social Care Emergency Duty Service can be contacted on 01926 886 922.
  • In more serious incidents, Nuneaton Police can be contacted on 02476 641 111

Despite the many policies and agencies involved in the protection of vulnerable adults, there have still been many cases of abuse occurring within a care setting. One example that was heavily reported in the news was the abuse that occurred at Winterbourne View Private Hospital. In 2011, a BBC Panorama investigation revealed that patients were routinely neglected, assaulted and restrained by care staff. Although various organisations were alerted to the malpractices, they were not followed through, resulting in local social services, police, the NHS and CQC being implicated for failing to do their duty. As a result of the investigation, several care staff at Winterbourne View were prosecuted and the hospital was closed down.

If I required further information or advice about safeguarding, I would probably go to my manager or consult with other members of my team in the first instance. I could also speak to other employees and look at the company’s vast library of policies and procedures, particularly the Safeguarding Policy, which is attached to this document. Other sources of information would include the local authority, CQC and my own independent research using books and the Internet.