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Understanding Legislation

There is a wide range of legislation surrounding adult safeguarding. The Care Act 2014 sets out clear guidance for local authorities in relation to protecting adults (over 18 years old) with a social care and support need. The Care Act 2014 sets out safeguarding duties to an adult who:

  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs);
  • is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; or
  • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.

This criteria is explored in further detail within the Adult Safeguarding Threshold Matrix.

The safeguarding process is underpinned by 6 principles of adult safeguarding, these are as follows:

  • Principle 1: Empowerment.
  • Principle 2: Prevention.
  • Principle 3: Proportionality.
  • Principle 4: Protection.
  • Principle 5: Partnership.
  • Principle 6: Accountability.

These principles underpin the working under a safeguarding remit to ensure that safeguarding processes are personal and appropriate to the individual involved.

In addition the Mental Capacity Act 2005 plays a key role in providing safeguarding support, this legislation applies to everyone involved in the care, treatment and support of people aged 16 and over living in England and Wales who are unable to make all or some decisions for themselves. The first and most important principle is the presumption of capacity. This means it is assumed that everyone has capacity until proved otherwise. A lack of capacity should not automatically be assumed simply based on a person's age, appearance, condition or behaviour.

A person can be supported further should they be deemed as lacking capacity by a Lasting power of attorney or Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards legislation. This must be undertaken in line with the Human Rights Act 1998 and encompass what is in that individuals best interests. Intervention should be the least restrictive approach. 

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 introduced the new Vetting and Barring Scheme and the role of the Independent Safeguarding Authority. The Act places a statutory duty on all those working with vulnerable groups to register and undergo an advanced vetting process. You may also know about the Disclosure and Barring Checks which many of us in the council have undertaken as part of our role. The 2003 Sexual Offences act has particular sections relating to abuse and offences from those in a position of trust, and against those individuals who may have a mental disorder which limits or affects their capacity to consent.

View a really useful guide from the LGA, which focuses on how to make safeguarding personal. We should all understand and engage with legislation to make sure we are focused on achieving the best and most person-led outcomes for our adults with safeguarding needs.