Protection of vulnerable adults

We are committed to preventing the abuse of adults (anyone over the age of 18) and responding promptly when abuse is suspected.

We work in partnership to protect vulnerable adults from all forms of abuse.  All public and voluntary organisations in south Wales are committed to their care, support and protection.  In fact, we believe it is everyone’s responsibility to play a part in the protection of vulnerable people.  This webpage will tell you more about how we work to safeguard their wellbeing and advise you about taking action yourself to stop or prevent abuse from happening.

Some adults are less able than others to take care and protect themselves from harm or exploitation. 
This is often because the person:

  • has a learning disability
  • has mental health problems
  • has become frail or mentally infirm with advancing age
  • has a physical or sensory disability
  • lives in poverty
  • is homeless
  • or is misusing substances, like drugs or alcohol

Abuse may occur as an isolated, one-off event or as a series of incidents occurring over a period of time. It can happen in the person’s own home, in day or residential centres or in clinics and hospitals.

Abuse can take many forms.  Examples are:

  • physical abuse – includes hitting or kicking or undue restraint
  • psychological or emotional abuse – including threats of harm or humiliation through verbal abuse
  • sexual abuse – includes sexual acts to which the vulnerable person has not or could not give consent
  • financial abuse – involving fraud or theft or applying pressure around property or wills
  • neglect or inappropriate care – when failure to act creates a risk to the vulnerable person

Sometimes, there are telltale signs of abuse having taken place, including the abused person:

  • displaying bruises or scars
  • becoming anxious or suffering a loss of confidence
  • showing uncharacteristic changes in mood or behaviour
  • becoming withdrawn and uncommunicative

If you have reasonable grounds to suspect that a vulnerable adult is at risk of being abused, this is what you should do:

  • don’t assume someone else will deal with the problem, you should take action yourself
  • act without delay
  • do not worry about being mistaken – it is better to be safe than sorry and to have discussed your concerns with an experienced and responsible person who can make an informed assessment
  • report your concerns and ensure that your suspicions will be fully investigated
  • contact the most appropriate agency in the circumstances (police if you feel the abuse constitutes a criminal offence, a doctor or ambulance if the person requires medical treatment or our Adult Protection Coordinator if it’s a social care problem (see Contacts)
  • ask for an explanation and follow up your concerns if you remain dissatisfied with the response you receive


If you suspect a crime has occurred contact South Wales Police
Telephone 01656 655555

If the situation requires a social care input contact an Adult Protection Coordinator
Telephone 01443 425425 

To contact social care services outside office hours contact the Emergency Duty Team
Telephone 01443 743665

If your concern is about someone who is in a residential or nursing home, you can contact the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.
Telephone 0300 062 8800

The Welsh Government has issued a guidance document called In Safe Hands.  It called for the development of multi-agency policies and procedures to protect and support vulnerable adults from
abuse and inappropriate care.