Protecting people from harm

03 July 2018

Press Release

Considerable progress has been made in ensuring that adults who are at risk of harm are safe and better supported, inspectors have said.

That is the main finding of the first ever inspection looking specifically at how well agencies responsible for keeping adults safe are working together to protect those at risk of harm.

Adult support and protection is delivered in Scotland by a range of agencies working as adult support and protection partnerships. These include local authorities, Police Scotland, health professionals, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and others. 

For the first time, inspectors from the Care Inspectorate and partners at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland and Healthcare Improvement Scotland looked at how well the laws around adult support and protection are being put into practice, and how well partnerships are working together to keep people safe.

Inspectors looked at a representative sample of six local areas: North Ayrshire, Highland, Dundee, Aberdeenshire, East Dunbartonshire and Midlothian. In each area, they looked at the experiences of individual people, the extent to which key protection processes are in place, and how well local leaders were performing. Across the local areas, inspectors found evidence which suggests that adults at risk are safer and better supported because of laws designed to protect them.

Inspectors found staff working in adult support and protection that were knowledgeable, skilled and highly motivated to protect people from harm, but emphasised the importance of clear processes and procedures for staff and regular, high-quality support for frontline workers. Inspectors noted that adults at risk of harm were frequently well supported where risks were assessed properly and the past experiences of the person were properly recorded and understood by staff working with them. They described agencies working together to put management plans in place to support adults at risk as being crucial.

The report also identified areas where improvements are needed, both nationally and in the local areas inspected.

Karen Reid, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “Protecting people who are at risk of harm is everyone’s concern, and people want to know how well services work together to keep people safe. Much scrutiny up to now has focused on efforts to protect children at risk of harm in our communities, but it is vital that we also understand how well partnerships protect adults who are at risk.

“Our inspections examined how well the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 is being implemented to ensure adults at risk of harm are safe, protected, and supported.

“Approaches to child protection in Scotland are well-embedded, and these inspections showed that partnerships have made considerable progress with adult support and protection too. By studying individual cases, we have seen evidence of how people’s wellbeing and quality of life has improved.

“The past decade has seen awareness of adult protection grow, the creation and training of an adult protection workforce, and effective leadership put in place for organisations to work together. Of course there is no room for complacency, and this report will help all partnerships across Scotland reflect on their strengths and areas where they can improve.”

Gill Imery, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary said: "We at HMICS have been pleased to participate fully in this work looking at how agencies, including Police Scotland, are working in partnership to protect adults at risk of harm. The inspections highlight how effective close collaboration between organisations can have positive outcomes for people and communities.

"There have been developments in approach and practice which have made a vital contribution to preventing harm to adults at risk.

"We found clear evidence that police concern hubs, where officers report and share information about concerns that a child, young person or adult is vulnerable and at risk of harm, were effective. Concern hubs were a positive development and working well in dealing with an increase in demand for services to support vulnerable adults.

"The findings from these inspections of six partnership areas will be relevant to colleagues across Scotland who are working together to protect adults at risk of harm."

In their report, inspectors also said valuing and supporting frontline staff who carry out highly challenging adult protection work is critical.

They said that more could be done by partnerships to seek out the views of adults at risk of harm about their experiences of adult support and protection.

And they highlighted the importance of social work and social workers to ensure that adults at risk of harm were safe, protected and supported.

They added: “Throughout this report, we emphasise the paramount need for agencies to collaborate and work in partnership to deliver positive outcomes for adults at risk of harm and their unpaid carers.”

The report is available to download here: