Number: B1407 Date Published: 29 September 2021 Version 7, September 2021
1.0 Summary of Changes
This procedure has been updated on its yearly review as follows:
New section added as 3.3, all following sections renumbered;
Additional information added within section 3.9 to include five principles outlined in the Mental Capacity Act;
Additional information added within bullet points in 3.10;
Additional bullet point added within 3.10.1;
Owner and author details updated.
2.0 What this Procedure is about
Protecting vulnerable adults is a fundamental part of policing and places a wider duty on the police to safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable adults, and to consider whether the person is at risk of harm. This procedure will ensure a consistent and effective response to the protection and safeguarding of vulnerable adults, including the investigation of adult abuse and neglect.
This procedure should be read in conjunction with the College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice (APP) on:
National Decision Model (NDM);
Code of ethics.
Making Safeguarding Personal: What might ‘good’ look like for the Police
2.1 Care Act 2014 and Vulnerability
A person is vulnerable if, “as a result of their situation or circumstances, they are unable to take care of or protect themselves, or others, from harm or exploitation”. Under the Care Act 2014 Local Authorities must promote wellbeing when carrying out any of their care and support functions in respect of a person, and that person should be enabled to participate as fully as possible in decisions at every stage of their care. Wellbeing is described in Section 1 of the Care Act 2014.
The purpose of adult safeguarding is to prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect to adults with care and support needs. The Care Act applies to any person aged 18 or above whom:
1. Adult has care and support needs and
2. Is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect and
3. Is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect, because of those needs.
Local Authorities must undertake an assessment of any adult, who appears to have any level of needs for care and support. In addition, if someone is caring for someone else aged 18 or over on a regular basis, without being paid for it, they are entitled to have a carer’s assessment.
The purpose of the Local Authority assessment is to identify the needs of the vulnerable adult. The Local Authority is then able to see how these needs impact on the individual’s wellbeing in their day-to-day life. The individual should be supported to participate as fully as possible in the decisions made following the assessment.
The priorities of Essex Police will be:
To safeguard and protect the lives, rights and freedoms of vulnerable adults, ensuring that the welfare of the adult at risk is paramount;
To investigate all reported incidents of abuse and or neglect against vulnerable adults;
To take effective action against offenders, holding them to account through the criminal justice system;
To comply with the Southend, Essex and Thurrock (SET) Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Guidelines, when identifying and raising concerns about vulnerable adults at risk of harm;
To maintain a partnership approach to the collation of information;
To adopt a proactive multi-agency approach to prevent and reduce adult abuse;
To adhere to the principles of Making Safeguarding Personal (see Section 3.2).
Compliance with this procedure and any governing policy is mandatory.
3.0 Detail the Procedure
Abuse, which may be deliberate or accidental, can be the result of a single act, or may continue over a period of time, as is often the case with neglect.
Some abuse may not amount to a crime, and may be perpetrated as a result of ignorance, or poor or unsatisfactory professional practice. This may still require initial police investigation to identify the cause, and will always necessitate referral to the Local Authority, in accordance with the SET Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Guidance. This will ensure that interventions, other than a criminal investigation, may be considered, for example, disciplinary action, social care or health assessment, or action by inspection or regulatory bodies. Protecting adults at risk will not operate in isolation from other policies/procedures aimed at protecting vulnerable groups, i.e. Honour Based Abuse, Forced Marriage, Hate Crime and Domestic Abuse. Officers and staff will need to be familiar with the relevant policy/procedure and where to find it.
Abuse may fall within the following categories:
Psychological or emotional abuse;
Financial or material abuse;
Neglect and Acts of Omission;
3.2 Southend, Essex and Thurrock (SET) Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Guidelines
This guidance outlines the processes for raising concerns, gathering information, investigation and concluding a safeguarding alert in relation to vulnerable adults, who are at risk.
The police will take primacy of the criminal investigation and the Local Authority are the lead on safeguarding procedures however this is a shared responsibility, and should police attend an incident first, they will then have to address safeguarding initially. The Local Authority and police must work together to ensure that the vulnerable adult is protected. Where there is a significant risk to a vulnerable adult, their safety and welfare must take precedence over the police investigation.
Safeguarding is a person-centred approach, which means that adults are encouraged to make their own decisions and are provided with support and information to empower them to do so. This approach recognises that adults have a general right to independence, choice and self-determination including control over information about themselves. Investigators will ensure that the views of the victim (and their independent advocates or representatives if they lack capacity) are sought throughout the whole safeguarding process and criminal investigation.
The guidelines are based on the Six Key Safeguarding Principles that underpin all adult safeguarding work.
Empowerment Adults are encouraged to make their own decisions and are provided with support and information.
Prevention Strategies are developed to prevent abuse and neglect that promotes resilience and self-determination.
Proportionate A proportionate and least intrusive response is made balanced with the level of risk.
Protection Adults are offered ways to protect themselves, and there is a co-ordinated response to adult safeguarding.
Partnerships Local solutions through services working together within their communities.
Accountable Accountability and transparency in delivering a safeguarding response.
3.3 The Four-Stage Process:
Safeguarding Procedures have been structured in a four-stage process as depicted on the attached.
3.3.1 Stage 1 – Concerns:
Adult safeguarding concern arises when there is suspicion an adult is at risk or has experienced neglect/abuse caused by themselves or another. An adult at risk is defined in Section 2.1 Care Act 2014 and Vulnerability. When such concerns are raised the following should be completed:
SETSAF forms should be sent to the Adult Traige Team ONLY;
Initial conversations to be had with the adult at risk;
Police referral and investigation.
3.3.2 Stage 2 – Enquiry:
Once the Local Authority have been made aware of such adult that fulfils the aforementioned criteria, they must undertake/arrange an enquiry, the extent to which they deem necessary under Section 42 of The Care Act 2014, referred to as a Section 42 Enquiry. Those that do not meet the threshold for a Section 42 enquiry will be triaged by the Adult Traige Team. This might lead to referral to EPUT (Essex Partnership University Trust) GP or No Further Action. In every case a Non-Crime Athena will be created. Such enquiry provides the Local Authority with information relating to what action may need to be taken to prevent/stop abuse or neglect. Risk Assessments should be conducted in the beginning of the enquiry and throughout. A multi-agency approach to risk should assist with the management of such risk.
3.3.3 Stage 3 – Safeguarding Management Plan Review:
The Local Authority Lead in the enquiry should monitor the safeguarding management plan throughout, to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan, whether it is achieving its desired outcomes and assess the risk. Once the review process has been complete, it may be established whether the safeguarding management plan is still required, or requires amending.
3.3.4 Stage 4 – Closing the Enquiry:
It is unacceptable to close an enquiry based on whether there is enough evidence for the Police to proceed with criminal investigation. The enquiry can be closed when the adult has been safeguarded and the following in relation to closing the enquiry has been completed and documented:
Reason for closing the enquiry and its outcome;
Views of the adult in relation to the closure;
Views of the referrer;
Completion of Safeguarding Management Plan.
3.4 Threat, Risk, Harm Considerations
Where the vulnerable adult is at high risk of immediate serious harm or death, police personnel must immediately consider how to reduce this risk, whilst having regard for the wishes and capacity of the vulnerable adult.
For officers’ responsibilities please refer to 3.8.2.
The Local Authority Team will take the lead, ensuring the safeguarding process considers any other vulnerable adults who may be at risk as a result of the incident.
The Local Authority will undertake a formal risk assessment, although where the matter relates to domestic abuse, officers and staff will still complete the DASH risk forms in accordance with B 1700 Policy - Domestic Abuse.
3.5 Investigation of Criminal Offences
Allocation of crime should follow the Force allocation policy, which determines allocation against the skills the officer possesses (i.e. PIP1 or PIP2). There is always the caveat for complex PIP1 to go to CID.
Support for officers investigating offences involving adults who have significant mental or physical impairment can be obtained by completing a form A712 (intermediary request for service) see section 3.6. The Investigating Officer must ensure that investigation is an integral part of the overall multi-agency safeguarding procedure.
The safeguarding process is not a substitute for a criminal investigation but will potentially involve SETSAF referrals being made to the relevant authority.
All investigation activity will be overseen and managed by the relevant allocated investigation team Inspector.
3.6 Bail and Release Under Investigation (RUI) Guidance
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 has introduced a presumption in favour of release without bail unless bail is deemed ‘necessary and proportionate in all the circumstances’ including the necessity to support and protect victims.
As such all officers and staff responsible for conducting investigative reviews will:
Endorse the Athena enquiry log with the Initial Expected Finish Date (EFD) – taking into account the investigative plan and anticipated timescales regarding forensics and digital evidence;
As above a supervisory review must be completed every 30 days until the investigation is concluded;
Victim, suspect and legal advisor to be updated on the progress of the investigation at end of each supervisory review;
Inspector review at 3 months;
Superintendent review at 6 months.
Further guidance can be found here.
3.7 Registered Intermediaries
Where the vulnerable adult has communication difficulties, the use of a Registered Intermediary should be considered at the time the incident is reported and, where appropriate, engaged before the victim is interviewed. Further information on the benefits of using an intermediary can be found within the Criminal Justice Department website.
3.7.1 Independent Advocates
The Care Act has extended the range of situations and people who are eligible for independent advocacy.
Local Authorities must arrange an independent advocate for any person who would experience difficulty being involved in the decisions around their care.
An advocate is appointed if there is no appropriate person, family member or friend to support their involvement and represent them.
Independent advocates focus on assisting the vulnerable adult that requires care and support. It means supporting a vulnerable adult to ensure that they understand information, are able to express their needs and wishes, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain the care and support they need.
A vulnerable adult may have difficulties interpreting information or making decisions around one or more of the areas defined in The Care Act:
Understanding relevant information;
Using or weighing up the information;
Communicating views, wishes and feelings.
3.8 Roles and Responsibilities
3.8.1 Force Control Room (FCR)
The FCR member of staff will:
Flag the incident with the PPU triage tag when it is identified as a call that relates to safeguarding a vulnerable adult.
3.8.2 Attending Officer
The attending officer will:
Identify and implement any safeguarding measures that need to be put in place immediately;
If a crime has occurred, record on Athena if this has not already been done;
Commence the investigation of any criminal offences or anti-social behaviour, see A 1001 Procedure – Anti Social Behaviour;
Complete a SETSAF1 form and attach to the related Athena record, creating an Adult Protection Athena record for any incidents where there are no connected offences;
Send a task to OC TRIAGE ADULT ATHENA work tray;
Update FCR of their actions.
3.8.3 Investigating Officer
The investigating officer will:
Conduct a thorough and expeditious investigation into identified offences according to relevant procedures. This includes creating an Athena record if not already created. If an Athena record has already been created as a non-crime event, and further investigation reveals a criminal offence the OIC is responsible for changing the non-crime Athena record to a crime Athena record via Crime Bureau;
Ensure that the principles of Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) are adhered to in respect of vulnerable victims and witnesses including the early engagement of Registered Intermediaries or Independent Advocates where appropriate;
Ensure that victims and/or their representative are regularly updated with the progression of the investigation;
Attend multi-agency meetings relating to the investigation.
3.9 Mental Capacity
3.9.1 Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA)
Capacity describes a person’s ability to make a specific decision at a specific time and capacity can fluctuate. When an individual has a condition that causes an impairment or disturbance of the brain, such as Dementia or a Learning Disability, it should not automatically be presumed that they lack capacity. Please see E 0503 Procedure – Mental Capacity Act for detailed guidance on how police personnel are able to utilise the MCA.
The Mental Capacity Act outlines five principles that underpin the work with adults whom may lack mental capacity, and are as follows:
1) Person must be assumed to have mental capacity unless it is established they lack capacity; 2) Person shall not be treated as unable to make a decision unless all practicable steps to help them to do so have been taken without success; 3) Person not to be treated as unable to make a decision merely because he makes an unwise decision; 4) Action taken under this act must be in the best interest of the one that lacks mental capacity; 5) Before the act is carried out, regard must be had for any other means to which the goal can be achieved in a way that is less restrictive on the persons rights and freedom of action.
3.10 Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults – Operations Centre Adult Triage Team
Upon receipt of a SETSAF, the Adult Triage Team will:
Assess Safeguards received from Partnership agencies for any urgent police action and safeguarding risk;
Assess all SETSAF created by police to establish if the S42 Care Act Criteria is met;
If a crime is identified on a safeguard received from partnership agencies, Triage will contact the referrer to establish if the crime/s have already been reported to police to ensure we do not end up with a duplicate. If the crime/s have not been reported, then Adult Triage will ask our partnership agencies to contact FCR so an incident can be created, new information will be risk assessed using ‘THRIVE’, and action can be taken/offences recorded in line with NCRS;
If the SETSAF relates to a domestic abuse incident that has not previously been reported to the police, FCR should be contacted for a STORM incident to be created. This is in accordance with B 1701 Procedure – Domestic Abuse Initial Grading and Attendance;
Research Athena and other Police systems to ascertain whether the individual is previously known for safeguarding concerns;
Notify relevant agencies whether there is police involvement and if it meets the criteria/there is a safeguarding concern. If a SETSAF does not meet any of the criteria, it will be sent back to the officer with no action taken; there are many examples of SETSAFs not meeting the full S.42 criteria where we still carry out actions, e.g. Expressing suicidal thoughts does not meet the threshold of a safeguarding enquiry under S.42, yet we would still share concerns with the GP;
Request any further information from relevant agencies, for example social services;
Ensure intelligence systems are updated as required;
If the incident appears to be a Hate Crime, send a copy of the SETSAF to the Hate Crime Officers for specialist victim management and support;
Attend or provide a written report to multi-agency meetings when these are called in respect of police safeguarding.
3.10.1 Operations Centre Adult Triage Team Detective Sergeant Responsibilities
The Operations Centre Adult Triage Team Detective Sergeant, or nominated deputy, will conduct a review of each safeguarding case owned by Adult Triage Team, prior to finalisation, to ensure:
All appropriate actions have been taken to safeguard the vulnerable adult;
All appropriate internal referrals have been made;
All appropriate multi-agency partner engagement has been completed;
NCRS has been complied with;
Review (CAP) Case Action Plan completed by the Adult Team safeguarding officer;
If further actions are required, set an additional CAP.
The Triage Detective Inspector will oversee the safeguarding work of the OC Adult Triage Team.
3.11 Public Protection, Protecting Vulnerable People
The triage officers within the Operations Centre will:
Monitor the OC Triage email, STORM tags and Athena work trays for external and internal safeguarding referrals;
Ensure that training on safeguarding vulnerable adults is designed and delivered in partnership with Essex Police College (EPC) across the force and with our key partners.
4.0 Equality Impact Assessment
EIA – July 2021.
5.0 Risk Assessment
It is anticipated that incidents within the scope of this procedure may well be varied in nature requiring a considered and dynamic multi-agency response to ensure that a quality service is provided.
Attending officers have a duty to consider their own health and safety implications upon attendance at an incident and must conduct their own dynamic risk assessment to identify the hazards they are likely to face, including measures which could be adopted to reduce the associated risks.
The following have been consulted during the formulation of this document:
Essex Diversity and Inclusion Manager
Health & Safety
Strategic Change Team
Strategic Force Crime & Incident Registrar
CID Chief Inspectors
Force Control Room
Force Leads for Domestic Abuse and Mental Health
7.0 Monitoring and Review
The Crime & Public Protection Command Strategic Centre will conduct a review every 12 months.
8.0 Governing Force policy. Related Force policies or related procedures
B 1400 Policy – Protecting Vulnerable People
B 1700 Policy - Domestic Abuse
B 1701 Procedure – Domestic Abuse Initial Grading and Attendance
B 0100 Policy – Recording of Incidents and Crimes
B 0600 Policy – Investigation of Crime
B 1402 Procedure - Hate Crime
B 1406 Procedure – Honour Based Abuse and Forced Marriage
B 2505 Procedure – Dealing with Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses within the Criminal Justice System
8.1 Data Security
Essex Police have measures in place to protect the security of your data in accordance with our Information Management Policy – W 1000 Policy – Information Management.
8.2 Retention & Disposal of Records
Essex Police will hold data in accordance with our Records Review, Retention & Disposal Policy – W 1012 Procedure/SOP - Records Review, Retention and Disposal.
We will only hold data for as long as necessary for the purposes for which we collected. Victims/public should be reminded that Essex Police take the protection of personal data seriously as described in the privacy notice.
9.0 Other Source Documents, e.g. Legislation, Authorised Professional Practice (APP), Force forms, partnership agreements (if applicable)
Department of Health ‘No Secrets 2000’
Guide to the Care Act and Implications for Providers
Care Act 2014 – HM Government Publishing
Care Act 2014 – Factsheets – Department of Health
ACPO Guidance – Safeguarding and Investigating the Abuse of Vulnerable Adults
CPS Guidance – CPS policy for prosecuting crimes against older people
Making Safeguarding Personal: What might ‘good’ look like for the Police