Adult protection committee convener urges people to act on their instincts

Making sure vulnerable adults are not at risk of harm is everyone’s business according to Albert Donald, Convener of Aberdeenshire Adult Protection Committees.

Mr Donald is urging people to act on their instinct if they think an adult is being harmed, neglected or taken advantage of.

The call comes as the Scottish Government launches an adult support and protection campaign aimed at raising awareness of adult harm and encouraging more people to report their suspicions.

Mr Donald said: “Everyone is aware of child protection but adult protection doesn’t seem to get as much publicity and there is less public understanding of these issues.

“When we talk about adult protection many people immediately think of older people or those in care homes but most referrals relate to the 40-64 age group.”

Adults at risk of harm are people over the age of 16 who are less able to protect themselves from harm due to being affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity. Adult harm takes many forms, such as physical, psychological, financial, and sexual harm and neglect.

Aberdeenshire Adult Protection Committee dealt with 371 referrals last year with around 80 requiring further investigations following an initial inquiry.

All cases are assessed by using the three point test which is defined in the Adult Support and Protection Act:

1. unable to safeguard their own well-being, property, rights or other interests, and
2. is at risk of harm, and
3. because they are affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than adults who are not so affected.


The vast majority of referrals come from the statutory agencies and service providers. Less than 2% came from family or friends which Albert Donald thinks is a concern.

Mr Donald added: “When people think a child is at risk of harm, they are quick to inform authorities. It should be no different for a vulnerable adult. However as demonstrated by the figures we receive very few referrals from the public.

“It is not always easy to tell if an adult is in trouble but there are signs and situations to be aware of. Unexplained cuts and bruises that they refuse to talk about, failing to look after themselves, confused where their money has gone, or routinely giving money to people they know.

“People often have an instinctive feeling that something is wrong, by acting on this they could help a person who is at risk to overcome the situation and become safe from harm.”

If you are being harmed, or are concerned that someone you know may be at risk of harm you should speak to someone about it.

If you, or the person being harmed, is in immediate danger you should ring the police on 999.

If it is less urgent and you live in Aberdeenshire:

please call – Adult Protection Network on 01651 871 246 or email  or emergency out of hours social work service  on 0845 840 0070