Adults at Risk of Abuse and Neglect

Definitions of adults at risk of abuse and neglect

Section126(1) of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 defines an adult at risk as an adult who:

  1. Is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect,
  2. Has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs), and
  3. As a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

It is important to note:

  • the use of the term 'at risk' means that actual abuse or neglect does not need to occur before practitioners intervene, rather early interventions to protect an adult at risk should be considered to prevent actual abuse and neglect;
  • the three conditions necessary to demonstrate an adult is at risk of abuse or neglect ensures that protection is provided to those with care and support needs who also require actions to secure the individual’s safety in the future because they are unable to protect themselves;
  • that the abuse of adults deemed to be ‘at risk’ is often linked to their circumstances rather than the characteristics of the people experiencing harm;1
  • risk of abuse or neglect may be the consequence of one concern or a result of cumulative factors.



  • can be physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial (includes theft, fraud, pressure about money, misuse of money)
  • take place in any setting, whether in a private dwelling, an institution or any other place.


This describes a failure to meet a person’s basic needs physical, emotional, social or psychological needs, which is likely to result in an impairment of the person’s well-being (for example, an impairment of the person’s health).

It can take place in a range of settings, such as a private dwelling, residential or day care provision.

Practitioners should be aware that the following behaviours could place the adult at risk of abuse or neglect:

  • Violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence (VAWDASV) this includes Female Genital Mutilation
  • Modern Slavery
  • Domestic abuse and violence against men
  • Criminal exploitation

It is important to note that this NOT exhaustive lists. Rather, they are provided to offer practitioners some pointers that may alert them to possible abuse or neglect in an adult.

If you suspect that an adults is at risk from abuse and neglect, please contact the Safeguarding Unit on 01495 762200.

Further information can be found at

Last Modified: 25/01/2021
For more information contact:

Safeguarding Unit

Tel: 01495 762200


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