Protecting people from abuse and neglect

Report a concern about an adult

Abuse comes in many forms and more than one type of abuse may be happening at the same time. 

We understand you might be worried about what will happen after reporting abuse, but the person concerned may not be able to report it themselves and could be relying on you to voice your concerns. We will make sure you are given help and advice throughout. Please do not assume that somebody else will recognise and report what you have seen or heard. 

What should I do if I am concerned about the safety of an adult? 

In an emergency, always call 999. 

Otherwise, please contact the adult social care service at Staffordshire County Council. 

Telephone: 0345 604 2719 

Lines are open: 

  • Monday – Thursday, 8am – 5pm 
  • Friday 8am - 4.30pm 

If you need to contact them outside of these hours, please call the emergency duty service on 0845 604 2886. 

If your concern is about the welfare of an adult, please contact the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Adult Safeguarding Partnership Board.

What happens next? 

This will depend on the wishes of the person and the seriousness of the situation. 

In response to your call, trained staff will carry out a careful and sensitive enquiry in line with locally agreed procedures. Information and advice will be offered so that the person and their family can make an informed choice about any practical help they need or action they wish to take. 

If they are unable to make an informed choice, care will be taken to support and protect them and do what is best for them. 

Can I remain anonymous? 

You will be asked about your own details but as a member of the public, you can choose to remain anonymous. 

What will happen after I've reported my concerns? 

This will depend on the seriousness of the situation. In response to a call, trained staff will carry out a careful and sensitive enquiry in line with locally agreed procedures.  

The information provided will be discussed with other organisations including the police. Meetings may be held to agree what will happen next. 

Information and advice will be offered so that choices can be made and help given. 

More advice 

Here are some organisations websites and phone numbers that can provide further advice: 


About adult abuse and neglect 

Types of neglect: 

  • Lack of food 
  • Lack of company 
  • Lack of personal care 
  • Someone regularly leaving the person for long periods of time or abandoning them 
  • Someone not helping them to access food, warmth, medication or medicines 
  • Someone not helping them to go to the toilet or wash 
  • Someone not helping them to get what they need from the health, social care or education services 

Signs of neglect could be: 

  • Ulcers, bedsores or other symptoms of poor care 
  • Neglected, old or inappropriate clothing 
  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Carers stopping health professionals or visitors going to see the person 
  • Not being allowed to have access to communication aids such as glasses or hearing aids 
  • Physical abuse 
  • Kicking, spitting, hitting, slapping 
  • Threatening to hit, kick or aggressively hurt someone 
  • Misuse of medication 
  • Not being careful when handling the vulnerable person 
  • Restraining the vulnerable person inappropriately 
  • Tell-tales signs of physical abuse 
  • Unexplained bruising or injuries, especially around areas that are well-protected such as the inside of the upper arms or upper legs 
  • Burn marks, which may have been caused by cigarettes and carpet burns 
  • Not giving the person the medicine they need 
  • Health professionals can't easily see the adult at risk as a relative or carer is stopping them 

Types of sexual abuse: 

Any type of sexual or inappropriate act or activity, including: 

  • Rape or any other sexual touching or activity that the adult at risk does not consent to or might not understand 
  • When some sort of act takes place and that person can't give their informed consent 
  • When a sexual relationship develops with someone in a position of trust or authority such as a carer, health worker or day care worker 

Signs of sexual abuse could be: 

  • Bruises around breasts or genitals 
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or genital infections 
  • Unexplained bleeding 
  • Torn or stained clothing 
  • The adult at risk is withdrawn 

Types of emotional abuse: 

  • Bullying, harassment or intimidation
  • Insults or humiliation 
  • Being trapped somewhere such as being locked in a room (deprivation of liberty) 
  • Verbal abuse such as swearing and making threats and threatening body language 
  • Not giving the person the right to make up their own mind and make their own decisions 

Psychological, emotional or mental abuse is just as harmful as any other type of abuse. 

Signs of emotional abuse could be: 

  • Under or over-eating at strange times 
  • Being anxious, or being confused 
  • Showing a loss of self-confidence 
  • Spending a lot of time by themselves 

Discriminatory abuse 

Adults at risk can be discriminated against in several ways. Discrimination can be based on attitudes about: 

  • Person's disability 
  • Religion 
  • Age 
  • Gender 
  • Appearance 
  • Cultural background 
  • Sexual orientation 

Institutional/organisational abuse 

This usually occurs when the individual needs of the person are ignored in favour of set procedures and routines, leading to serious impact on the person's quality of life. 

Examples include: 

  • restrictive bedtimes
  • inadequate activities for mental and spiritual fulfilment 
  • rigid visiting times or non-compliance with a personal care plan. 

Institutional abuse can typically occur in a care home, nursing home or hospital. It can affect anyone receiving care service. 

Types of financial abuse: 

  • Family members saying that they are "just getting their inheritance in advance" 
  • Misuse of Powers of Attorney, including removing or controlling someone's finances without permission 
  • Coercion, theft or fraud 
  • Borrowing money from someone you are providing care for. 

Financial abuse is common and everyone needs to be vigilant and look out for the signs. It can also be depriving someone of their goods, money or property. 

Signs of financial abuse could be: 

  • Unexplained or sudden inability to pay bills 
  • Unexplained or sudden withdrawal of money from accounts 
  • Extraordinary interest by family members and other people in the adults are risk's assets 
  • Power of attorney is obtained when the adult at risk is not able to understand the purpose of the document they are signing 
  • Recent change of deeds or title of property 
  • The person who manages the financial affairs is evasive or uncooperative 
  • A high level of expenditure without evidence of the person benefiting 
  • The purchase of items which the person does not require or use 
  • Personal possessions go missing from the person's home 
  • They don't live in conditions that match the money the person receives 

Who could be an abuser? 

Abuse is carried out by many different people, but it's usually someone who is known and trusted. It could be: 

  • family members 
  • neighbours 
  • care worker or volunteer 
  • friend 
  • anyone with access to the person. 

For further information on types of abuse and neglect, please visit the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Adult Safeguarding Partnership Board website.