Adult abuse

If you, or an adult you know is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect please don’t ignore it. Report a concern.

If you are worried about adult abuse or neglect, help and support is available. You can raise a safeguarding concern to Reading Borough Council, Adult Care and Health Services. We will take your concern seriously and will ensure this is looked into.

Adult Safeguarding means protecting adults at risk, enabling them to live safely and free from abuse and neglect.  Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.

What constitutes a safeguarding concern?

A safeguarding concern is where you have reasonable cause to suspect that an adult who may have care and support needs is at risk of, or experiencing abuse or neglect.

Who may have care and support needs?

Care and support needs refer to the extra help some people require to manage their daily lives and to be independent. This includes people experiencing:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Mental health needs
  • Long-term illness/physical disability
  • Frailty due to age, ill health, disability
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Can also include carers

Age alone doesn’t indicate care and needs but older people are at higher risk of developing conditions that can lead to the onset of care and support needs.

What is adult abuse or neglect?

Abuse and neglect happen when someone is hurt or treated badly. It can be accidental, deliberate or due to a lack of training. There doesn’t need to be an injury for abuse to have taken place. If a person is being abused in one way, they are often also being abused in other ways.

What are the forms of adult abuse or neglect?
  • Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking and restraint
  • Sexual abuse includes rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented, could not consent, or was pressured into consenting.
  • Psychological abuse includes emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.
  • Financial or material abuse includes theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.
  • Neglect includes ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health care, social care, education services or misuse of medication, adequate nutrition or heating.
  • Self-neglect is when the person isn’t meeting their own needs, such as adequately feeding themselves or taking care of their own medical needs.
  • Modern slavery includes forcing someone to work through threats, being dehumanised and bought/sold as property, being physically constrained and/or having restrictions placed upon their freedom.
  • Domestic abuse includes incidents or a pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence.
  • Organisational abuse can happen in residential homes, nursing homes or hospitals when people are mistreated because of poor or inadequate care, neglect and poor practice.
  • Discriminatory abuse includes racist, sexist behaviour and harassment based on a person’s ethnicity, race, culture, sexual orientation, age or disability.

When you raise a safeguarding concern, you’ll be asked which form or forms of abuse and neglect you think the person is at risk of, or experiencing.

Who might carry out abuse or neglect?

The person alleged to have caused or who poses a risk of harm, may be well known to the person at risk and could include:

  • Family members
  • Neighbours, friends and associates
  • Professionals such as a nurse, social worker, doctor, solicitor, police officer, etc.
  • Paid care workers and volunteers
  • People who use services
  • Or they could be a stranger.
Where does abuse or neglect happen?

Abuse and neglect can occur in any setting and could include:

  • Person’s own home
  • Carer’s home
  • Day centre
  • Residential or nursing home
  • Hospital
  • College
  • Work
  • Public place
What are the signs of abuse or neglect?

Signs of abuse can often be difficult to detect. People who come into contact with adults with care and support needs to identify abuse and recognise possible indicators. Find out more about the types and indicators of abuse and neglect.

Remember that many forms of abuse are also criminal offences and should be treated that way.

Who can raise a safeguarding concern?

Anyone can raise a safeguarding concern. For example, they might be friends, family members, carers, professionals working with adults with care and support needs, or someone who thinks they have been abused or neglected.

If you have reasonable cause to suspect that an adult who may have care and support needs is at risk of, or experiencing abuse or neglect, then you should raise a safeguarding concern with Reading Borough Council.

What will happen after I raise a safeguarding concern?

When you raise a safeguarding concern, we will:

  • Listen to you and take your concern seriously
  • Respond sensitively
  • Address any concerns about any immediate danger the adult may be in
  • Find out the wishes and views of the person at risk and what they want to happen
  • Let you know if anything is going to happen
  • Make enquiries about the concerns raised to find out if any steps need to be taken
  • Talk to the police if it is a criminal matter>
  • Develop a plan with the person to help keep them safe in the future.

Age alone doesn’t indicate care and needs but older people are at higher risk of developing conditions that can lead to the onset of care and support needs.

What if my concerns are about someone with care and support needs but these are not about abuse or neglect?

You may have a concern which isn’t about adult abuse or neglect but you feel the person is vulnerable because of some other form of risk. For example, your concern may be about someone under the age of 18 years or the quality or safety of a care or NHS service, fire safety, domestic abuse, anti-social behaviour, etc. Use the links below for the contact details of the organisations who will be able to help you:

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, phone the police on 999, or call them on 101 if it is less urgent.

If your request is urgent and you need support in the next 24 hours contact Reading Borough Council on 0118 937 3747 during opening times or 01344 351 999 for out-of-hours emergencies.

For Deaf Access Text 999 or Emergency Minicom Text Relay on 18000. You must be registered to use this service.

Online safeguarding referral forms

If your concern is not urgent then you can use one of the online forms below to raise your concern.


I’m raising a safeguarding concern about myself or about someone I know such as a partner, relative, friend, neighbour, etc.


I’m a professional raising a safeguarding concern such as a care provider, housing officer, social worker, nurse, doctor, voluntary/community worker, police officer, probation worker, further and higher education, solicitor, etc.

Useful telephone numbers

At busy times, there may be a wait for your call to be answered.

Contact centre office hours

0118 937 3747

Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm

CSAAdvice.Signposting@reading.gov.uk

Out of hours office service

This is an emergency service only.

01344 351 999

5.00pm to 9.00am

All day weekends and Bank Holidays

What constitutes a safeguarding concern?

Our video explains when and how you should raise a safeguarding concern.

A safeguarding concern is where you have reasonable cause to suspect that an adult who may have care and support needs is at risk of, or experiencing, abuse or neglect.