Adults at Risk

What is an Adult at Risk?

An ‘Adult at Risk’ is;

  • someone who has needs for care and support (including healthcare)
  • and is experiencing, or is at risk of abuse or neglect
  • and is unable to protect themselves against the abuse or neglect, or the risk of it.

The abuse of adults is unacceptable and Dorset Police is working to stop those who commit crimes against the vulnerable. The vulnerable members of our society are less likely to speak up if they are experiencing abuse, neglect or have been a victim of a crime, which is why it is important that members of the public ensure they report any concerns if they believe someone is being abused, neglected or exploited. 

Categories of Abuse

The abuse of adults is a complex issue as it can occur in many different forms and can be as a result of various factors.

The abuse inflicted can fall into a wide range of categories including physical, domesticsexual, psychological, financial or material, modern slavery, discriminatory, organisational, neglect and acts of omission, and self-neglect. Issues such as human trafficking and forced marriage are also considered abuse.

'Mate Crime' happens when someone befriends a person and then uses the relationship to exploit or abuse them. For example, they may take over a person’s flat or ‘borrow’ money which they never give back. Click here for more information about Mate Crime. 

Tell me more

It is important that we do not make assumptions in relation to vulnerability on the basis that an adult may be older or they have an identified disability or mental health issue. Abuse of adults can occur in many different forms and can be as a result of various factors.

An ‘Adult at Risk’ is;

  • someone who has needs for care and support (including healthcare)
  • and is experiencing, or is at risk of abuse or neglect
  • and is unable to protect themselves against the abuse or neglect, or the risk of it.

 An Adult at Risk must fall into the above definition but could be a person who is also;

  • Is frail due to age, ill health, physical disability or cognitive impairment
  • Has a learning disability
  • Has a physical disability/sensory impairment
  • Has mental health needs including dementia or a personality disorder
  • Has a long-term illness/condition
  • Misuses substances or alcohol
  • Is a victim of domestic violence or abuse
  • Is a carer such as a paid or unpaid family member/ friend who provides personal assistance and care to adults and is subject to harm
  • Is unable to demonstrate the capacity to make a decision and is in need of care and support
  • Is aged 18+ and is continuing within the Special Education system

But this list is not exhaustive and can include a range or combination of other issues. It can also include ‘self-neglect’ such as poor personal hygiene or health, and neglect of surroundings such as cleanliness and ‘hoarding’. 

Members of the public should think, spot the signs and speak out against abuse and neglect to anyone in our community. Signs that an adult may be experiencing abuse, neglect or exploitation can include;

  • Recently began misusing drugs or alcohol
  • Self-harm
  • Change in appearance/temperament
  • Increasing frailness or poor health
  • Increasing low self-esteem or anxiety
  • Criminality
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Poor cleanliness
  • Inability to dress, feed or clean themselves

Financial abuse can occur by itself, but research has shown that where other forms of abuse take place, there is likely to be financial abuse too.

Signs of financial abuse;

  • Change in living conditions.
  • Selling possessions.
  • Being unable to pay bills, or an unexplained lack of money.
  • Money being taken out of an account without a reason.
  • Financial documents being lost without a reason.
  • Someone being cut off from family, friends or their social network.
  • The carer having more money to spend on things like clothes, travel or accommodation.
  • Sudden changes to a bank account or how someone uses it.
  • New, recent authorised signers on a client or donor’s account card.
  • Money being taken without permission from the adult at risk’s ATM card.
  • Changes in how the ATM card is being used (such as more frequently or from different locations)

'Mate Crime' happens when someone befriends a person and then uses the relationship to exploit or abuse them. For example, they may take over a person’s flat or ‘borrow’ money which they never give back.

Click here for more information about Mate Crime. 

Criminals are known to exploit and target the vulnerable. Scams and fraud such as doorstep crime, as well as cyber-crime are often targeted at the vulnerable. Talk to vulnerable people you care for within a professional role, as well as relatives and neighbours, to make them aware of how to protect themselves from becoming victims. Click here for crime prevention advice

'Mate Crime' happens when someone befriends a person and then uses the relationship to exploit or abuse them. For example, they may take over a person’s flat or ‘borrow’ money which they never give back.

Click here for more information about Mate Crime. 

Dorset Police also has a dedicated team working for the Public Protection Unit. These officers and staff investigate incidents of adult abuse in Dorset as well as working to safeguard those at risk. Officers from the Public Protection Unit receive specialist training on how to interview vulnerable adults, balancing the gathering of evidence with a concern for their welfare during the interview process.

While the specially trained officers investigate these offences and support victims, the general public of Dorset should be our eyes and ears also. If anyone believes someone is being abused or exploited they should not hesitate to contact the police and report their concerns, or contact their local adult social services as they also have a duty to safeguard vulnerable people.

Online and telephone fraud offences have seen an increase in recent years, so it is also important to educate the public about these issues. If anyone has any vulnerable relatives or friends please inform them of these dangers so that they are aware of how to protect themselves from becoming victims.

Dorset communities should feel safe in the knowledge that the police are here to protect them, and the Force works hard to proactively reduce crime and bring those who inflict harm on the vulnerable to justice.

If you have concerns that anyone is being abused, neglected or exploited please report it online here >

Alternatively if you wish to speak with someone call 101. In an emergency, if someone is in immediate danger, call 999.

Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Local Authority Adult Social Care:

  • Bournemouth: 01202 454 979
  • Poole: 01202 633 902
  • Dorset: 01305 221 016

Forced Marriage Unit: 020 7008 0151, www.gov.uk/guidance/forced-marriage

Action on Elder Abuse: 080 8808 8141, www.elderabuse.org.uk 

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