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Appendix 1

What constitutes abuse?

Social Services and Wellbeing Act 2014 (Section 7)

Section 197(1) of the Act provides definitions of “abuse” and “neglect”:

  • “Abuse” means physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial abuse (and includes abuse taking place in any setting, whether in a private dwelling, an institution or any other place), and
  • “financial abuse” includes, having money or other property stolen; being defrauded; being put under pressure in relation to money or other property; having money or other property misused;
  • “neglect” means a failure to meet a person’s basic physical, emotional, social or psychological needs, which is likely to result in an impairment of the person’s wellbeing (for example, an impairment of the person’s health or, in the case of a child, an impairment of the child’s development)

The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples for each of the categories of abuse and neglect:

  • Physical Abuse – hitting, slapping, over or misuse of medicine, undue restraint, or inappropriate sanctions;
  • Sexual Abuse – rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the person has not or could not consent and/or was pressurised into consenting;
  • Psychological Abuse – threats of harm or abandonment, coercive control, humiliation, verbal or racial abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks; coercive control is an act or pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation, intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten the victim;
  • Neglect – failure to access medical care or services, negligence in the face of risk-taking, failure to give prescribed medication, failure to assist in personal hygiene or the provision of food, shelter, clothing; emotional neglect;
  • Financial Abuse in relation to people who may have needs for care and support
    • Unexpected change to their will;
    • Sudden sale or transfer of home;
    • Unusual activity in a bank account;
    • Sudden inclusion of additional names on a bank account;
    • Signature does not resemble the person’s normal signature;
    • Reluctance or anxiety by the person when discussing their financial affairs;
    • Giving a substantial gift to a carer or other third party;
    • A sudden interest by a relative or other third party in the welfare of the person;
    • Bills remaining unpaid;
    • Complaints that personal property is missing;
    • A decline in personal appearance that may indicate that diet and personal requirements are being ignored.

Harm/Abuse outside the family home i.e. Exploitation, Peer on Peer Abuse, Serious Violence, Gang related etc.) –

Those working with children, young people and adults must also consider risk and harm through a contextual safeguarding lens as well as the traditional family focused approach. Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to, children’s, young people’s and adults’ experiences of harm beyond their families. It recognises that different relationships are formed in their neighbourhoods, schools and online that can feature violence and abuse. Parents and carers have little influence over these contexts, and young people’s experiences of such abuse can undermine parent-child relationships.

Therefore, all practitioners need to engage with individuals and sectors who do have influence over/within harm outside of the family home contexts, and recognise that assessment of, and intervention with, these spaces are a critical part of safeguarding practices. Contextual Safeguarding, therefore, expands the objectives of the safeguarding systems in recognition that people are vulnerable to abuse in a range of social contexts: their neighbourhoods, schools, parks, town centre. Therefore employees and volunteers working for/on behalf of the Local Authority are asked to think of abuse in the context of place, person (suspected to be of concern), premises (location) and to report it.