Safeguarding children and adults at risk of abuse or neglect policy and procedure

Other abuse

Domestic abuse

As of 1 March 2013, the Home Office definition of domestic abuse is:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse;

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional


Controlling behaviour

This is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour

This is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.


In all cases where there is knowledge or suspicion that there exists a potential for a child or children to be suffering harm as a result of domestic violence and abuse, then a referral should be made to Children’s Social Care via the Staffordshire Children's Advice Service (formerly the First Response Team (FRT) who act as the first point of contact for all referrals in relation cases that meet the threshold for significant harm – for further information please refer to the Threshold framework 'Accessing the right help at the right time'.


Where it is thought that a victim of domestic violence and abuse meets the definition of an adult at risk of abuse and neglect, then an Adult Safeguarding referral should be made to the Adult Protection Contact Centre on 0345 604 2719.

Workforce domestic abuse policy

We also have a workforce domestic abuse policy, which offers guidance to our employees and managers for supporting staff who may be affected by the subject.

Hidden harm

Children may be suffering from the effects of what is known as 'hidden harm' if they live with parents or carers who are misusing drugs or alcohol. Children in these situations may be acting as young carers or they may be subjected to any of the forms of abuse described above.

Separate policies and procedures for children living with parents who misuse substances and those who are deemed as young carers can be found on the SSCB website.

Child sexual exploitation (CSE)

This is a form of sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity:

  • in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or
  • for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator

The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact, it can also occur through the use of technology. (DFE2017)

Children and young people do not make informed choices to enter or remain in sexual exploitation. Rather, they do so from coercion, enticement, manipulation, fear or desperation.

Contextualised safeguarding

This is an approach to safeguarding that responds to young people's experiences of harm outside of the home, for example, with peers, in schools and in neighbourhoods.

The child protection system, therefore, needs to engage with individuals and sectors who do have influence over or within extra-familial contexts, and it needs to recognise that assessment of, and intervention with, these spaces are a critical part of safeguarding practices. Contextualised safeguarding expands the objectives of child protection systems with recognition that young people are vulnerable to abuse in a range of social contexts. For further guidance, see the SSCB web site.

Forced marriage

This is a marriage without the full and free consent of both parties. It is a form of domestic abuse and an abuse of human rights. In an arranged marriage the family will take the lead in arranging the match but the couples have a choice as to whether to proceed. In forced marriage, one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of some disabled young people and some adults cannot) consent to the marriage and some element of duress is involved.

Duress can include physical, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional pressure.

Please note: the Mental Capacity Act does not allow for consent to marry to be given on behalf of a person without capacity to make this decision for themselves.

Research carried out by the then Department for Children, Schools and Families estimated that the national prevalence of reported cases of forced marriage in England was between 5,000 and 8,000, with the youngest victim being 2 years old and the oldest 76 years.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

This includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” (World Health Organisation 2014). It is illegal in the UK.

FGM is known by a number of names including:

  • female genital cutting
  • female circumcision
  • initiation

The term female circumcision suggests that the practice is similar to male circumcision, but it bears no resemblance to male circumcision, has serious health consequences and no medical benefits. FGM is also linked to domestic abuse, particularly in relation to 'honour based violence'.

Modern slavery

This encompasses:

  • slavery
  • human trafficking
  • forced labour
  • domestic servitude

Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

The organised crime of human trafficking into the UK has become an issue of considerable concern to all professionals with responsibility for the care and protection of children and adults. Any form of trafficking humans is an abuse.

Trafficking of persons means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat of, or use of coercion, abduction, fraud, and deception, abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability. It also includes the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

It is important to note that some cases involve UK-born people being trafficked within the UK, for example, people being trafficked from one town to another. The consent of the victim of trafficking is irrelevant where any of the above methods have been used.

Trafficked people may be used for sexual exploitation, agricultural labour including tending plants in illegal cannabis farms and benefit fraud. Children as well as adults are trafficked.

If you have a concern regarding trafficking of a person you should immediately contact the designated Safeguarding Officer or make a referral direct to the appropriate team. Practitioners should not do anything which would heighten the risk of harm or abduction to the child or adult.

Race and racism

People from black and minority groups (and their parents or carers) are potentially likely to have experienced harassment, racial discrimination and institutional racism.

Although racism causes significant harm it is not, in itself, a category of abuse (unless the victim meets the definition of an adult at risk of abuse and neglect, in which case an appropriate referral should be made) and dealing with it is considered under our other specific policies.

Hate crime

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have a nationally agreed definition of hate crime. Hate crimes are taken to mean any crime where the perpetrator's hostility or prejudice against an identifiable group of people is a factor in determining who is victimised. This is a broad and inclusive definition. A victim does not have to be a member of the group. In fact, anyone could be a victim of a hate crime.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have agreed 5 monitored strands of hate crime as set out below

A hate crime is any criminal offence that is motivated by hostility or prejudice based upon the victim's:

  • disability
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sexual orientation
  • transgender identity

Hate crime can take many forms including:

  • physical attacks such as physical assault, damage to property, offensive graffiti and arson
  • threat of attack including offensive letters, abusive or obscene telephone calls, groups hanging around to intimidate, and unfounded, malicious complaints
  • verbal abuse, insults or harassment - taunting, offensive leaflets and posters, abusive gestures, dumping of rubbish outside homes or through letterboxes, and bullying at school or in the workplace

If the victim of a hate crime meets the definition of an adult at risk of abuse and neglect, an adult protection referral should be made to the Adult Protection Contact Centre on 0345 604 2719.

Safeguarding people who are vulnerable to being drawn into violent extremism and/or terrorism

The current threat from terrorism in the United Kingdom can involve the exploitation of vulnerable people, including children of all ages, young people and adults to involve them in terrorism or activity in support of terrorism.

Violent Extremism is defined by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as:

"The demonstration of unacceptable behaviour by using any means or medium to express views, which: 

  • encourage, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs
  • seek to provoke others to terrorist acts
  • encourage other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts
  • foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK"

There are a number of offences that can be considered when dealing with violent extremism. They include offences arising through spoken words, creation of tapes and videos of speeches, internet entries, chanting, banners and written notes and publications.

The main offences employed to date have been soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred.

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Safeguarding Children Boards and the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Adult Safeguarding Partnership Board recognise the need to protect people against the messages of all violent extremism including that linked to:

  • far-right or neo-Nazi or white supremacists
  • Al Qaeda ideologies
  • Irish nationalist and loyalist paramilitary groups
  • animal rights movements