Report a concern about an adult (safeguarding and abuse)

How to report a concern

If you have concerns that a vulnerable or older adult is at risk of either being harmed or abused then you must report it. 

To do nothing is the worst thing you can do.

See what is abuse.

How to report abuse of an adult

Call 999 if you are reporting a crime that is in progress or if someone is in immediate danger.

If you think someone is at risk or is being abused, you should report it to South Tyneside Council:

  • 0191 424 6000
    Monday to Thursday - 8.30am to 5pm
    Friday - 8.30am to 4.30pm
  • 0191 456 2093
    Outside of the above office hours

If you are a professional, you can report concerns using the safeguarding adults referral form.

Care homes and hospitals

If your concern relates to a care home or hospital, you can also report concerns to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on 03000 61 61 61.

What is abuse

Abuse and neglect can be defined in many ways: 

  • When someone does or says things that hurt you or make you feel upset or frightened
  • Abuse happens when someone has power over you and you do not agree to what is happening to you
  • Abuse can be something that happens once or repeatedly
  • Abuse is a crime

Abuse can include:

  • Physical abuse - including hitting, slapping, pushing, restraint and the use of inappropriate sanctions
  • Domestic abuse - any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive , threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 years or over who are, or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality
  • Sexual abuse - including rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, sexual assault, inappropriate looking or touching and sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting
  • Psychological / emotional abuse - includes threats of harm, deprivation of contact, humiliation, harassment, blaming, bullying, isolation and unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or support networks
  • Financial or material abuse - includes theft, fraud, internet scamming, and coercion in relation to an adult's financial affairs or arrangements
  • Neglect or acts of omission - includes ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services
  • Modern slavery - this includes human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Most victims are deceived and forced into a life of abuse and inhumane treatment
  • Discriminatory abuse - includes forms of harassment, slurs or other similar treatment because of race, gender and gender identify, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion
  • Organisational abuse - includes poor care practice within an organisation or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home and poor practice in relation to care provided in one's own home
  • Self-neglect - covers a wide range of behaviour such as hoarding, neglecting to care for one's personal hygiene, health or surroundings 

Abuse can happen anywhere - in your own home, in a care home, in a hospital, at work etc. It can be deliberate, or the result of ignorance or a lack of proper training. 

Whatever the type of abuse, and wherever it happens, it is not acceptable. 

Who are 'adults at risk' of abuse or neglect

An adult at risk may be a person who is / has:

  • Elderly and frail due to ill health
  • Learning disabilities
  • Physical disabilities and / or a sensory impairment
  • Mental health needs including dementia or personality disorder
  • Long-term illnesses /or conditions
  • Misuses substances or alcohol
  • Unable to make their own decisions and is in need of care and support
  • A young adult, over the age of 18, who has care and support needs and is 'in transition' from children's to adults' services
  • carer (looking after another person with care and support needs)

This list is not exhaustive - other people not on this list might also be considered to be adults at risk.

Occasionally, people might have difficulty making decisions for themselves. Find out how people who have  can be helped. 

Who is responsible for abuse

Anyone can be responsible for the abuse of another person, often they can be well known to the person being mistreated or exploited. 

What happens next

  1. Someone will speak to you about the situation, and work with you or the person you are worried about to decide the best course of action and who might need to be involved. 
  2. You will be asked to explain the practical help you think you may need to make you safer and what else you might like to happen as a result of reporting your concerns. The local authority will make sure that your wishes are taken into account and work with you to try to get the outcomes you want.
  3. You should always hear back from the local authority if you report a concern, if you do not receive any feedback, you should contact 0191 424 6000 (please note however that confidential information cannot be shared).

Getting help during the safeguarding process (advocacy)

If a person has care and support needs and has substantial difficulty being involved in a safeguarding process, we will try to find an appropriate individual to support them.

If this is not possible, an independent advocate can be appointed to support and represent the person if necessary.

Find out about entitlement to advocacy under the Care Act.


If for any reason you are unhappy with the way the safeguarding process is working, you can make a complaint to the Council and ask us to investigate your concerns.