Safeguarding adults and children


What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding supports vulnerable children and adults at risk to live free from abuse and neglect.

The aim of safeguarding is to stop abuse and neglect. Safeguarding also encourages good practice when responding to specific concerns.

It may not always be possible to provide satisfactory solutions. In a proportion of cases an adult at risk may make lifestyle choices that cause us concern, ie to remain in an abusive environment, situation or continue to choose a chaotic lifestyle.

Organisations and services use safeguarding procedures when concerned about abuse or neglect. Using the procedures makes sure they have a quick and proper response to protect anyone at risk.

People are also vulnerable whenever their health or usual function is compromised and as a consequence they may be unable to protect themselves against harm or exploitation. Although illness and disability at any age can make people vulnerable, some people are more at risk to abuse than others eg those who are physically frail, those who have mental health problems and those with a learning disability.

Safeguarding vulnerable adults

Some adults are less able to protect themselves than others. Some may have difficulty making their wishes and feelings known. This may make them more vulnerable to abuse.

There are many forms of abuse. For example it can be physical, emotional, or sexual. It may involve people taking money without permission. or not looking after someone properly. Poor care, bullying or humiliation are also abuse. So is cutting off someone’s contact with friends and family.

Abuse might happen once. It may go on for a long time. In some instances the abuse may not have been deliberate, malicious or premeditated. It can happen when people are trying to do their best but are unaware of what is the right thing to do, but it leads to harm to the victim. This harm can be physical, emotional or financial. It could harm their wellbeing or development.

The formal definition of abuse is ‘a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons’.

Our definitions come from the Department of Health DOH Care Act 2014 (Opens in a new window)

Safeguarding children and the unborn

Safeguarding is about looking after the welfare of children and young people, and protecting them from harm. A child is anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday.

Child protection is part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. It protects specific children who are suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm.

Abuse and neglect are types of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse and neglect a child by inflicting harm directly. Or they may abuse and neglect a child indirectly by failing to stop or report harm.

Abuse or neglect can happen in a family, a community or an organisation. The abuser may be someone they know. The abuser may be a stranger, but this is less common.

Abuse and neglect can be physical, emotional, or sexual or neglect. It may happen once or continue over a long time. Abuse and neglect lead to harm to the child or young person.

ESNEFT’s safeguarding policies draw on national guidance from the NPSCC and the government. We also work in partnership with our local adult and child safeguarding boards.


If you are concerned about the safety or welfare of a child, young person or unborn baby

Essex Safeguarding Children Board (Opens in a new window)

Essex Social Services (Opens in a new window)
Tel: 0345 603 7627

Suffolk Safeguarding Partnership (Opens in a new window)

Suffolk Social Services (Opens in a new window)
Suffolk Social Services Customer First tel: 0808 800 4005

If you are concerned about the safety or welfare of an adult

Essex Adult Social Care (Opens in a new window)
Tel: 0345 603 7630

Suffolk Social Services (Opens in a new window)
Customer First tel: 0808 800 4005

Guidance on Powers of Attorney

The Law Society (Opens in a new window)

Back to top