Elderly man with cane smiling


If you think an adult is at risk or being neglected

Are you concerned about someone who may be at risk of harm or neglect? Or are you an adult at risk of harm?  We can help.

  • contact social work on 01875 824 309 or, outside the hours of 9am to 5pm contact the Emergency Social Work Service on
    0800 731 6969
  • you can also contact the police by calling 101, or in an emergency call 999

You can report your concerns to us in confidence and we can take action to protect the person you are worried about.


What will happen when I report harm?

East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership, NHS Lothian, and Police Scotland work in partnership to keep people safe from harm.

We have a duty to inquire and investigate cases where harm is known or suspected.  Staff work closely with the adult at risk to decide together what action is best.

If appropriate, the family of the adult at risk will also be involved in the decision-making.


What happens if you refer a concern:

When you have concerns about the safety of another person, it's really important to share these - both for your own piece of mind and because this information can be pivotal to their wellbeing and protection.

The social work staff receiving the information, will take your concerns seriously and will make a decision about whether, and how, to take action, prioritising the rights and safety of the person you’re worried about.

Due to confidentiality, it is unlikely that you will receive any information on this process and any action taken, however, please be assured that your initial step in sharing information is absolutely vital in ensuring that people are supported and protected.

Adult Support and Protection Day is 20 February each year, but it’s critical to keep awareness up by folding messages about support and protection available for adults throughout the year.


What does harm look like?

We all have a responsibility to report whether we 'know or believe' an adult to be at risk of harm. Harm can happen anywhere. In someone's home, where they work, in a public place - often by people closest to them. It can even happen in places responsible for keeping someone safe, such as a care home or day centre.

Harm can take form in many ways so it is important to identify the following:

Physical harm
This is when a person deliberately hurts someone else by punching, kicking, slapping, or shaking. Making aggressive physical contact with someone is known as assault. It is against the law to hurt someone intentionally.

Psychological harm
Words do hurt. Especially when used to frighten, threaten, humiliate or control another person, or making them feel isolated. Vulnerable people can be targets for others taking advantage of them; for example, using their home and belongings or pressuring them into being involved in illegal or socially unacceptable behaviour.

Financial harm
Whether it’s taking a valuable piece of jewellery or a few pounds from a purse, it’s still stealing and is against the law. A person can be pressured into giving someone money because they have been made to feel sorry for them or obliged to them. Scams – both in person, and online, are good examples of these.

Sexual harm
Sexual activity requires permission, known as ‘consent’. However, in order to give consent a person must fully understand what they are consenting to. They also need to understand that they have the right to refuse to do anything they don’t feel comfortable with – at any time – even if they have previously given permission. It is a serious crime to coerce, threaten or force someone to engage in any type of sexual activity.

Neglect is when someone is not being cared for properly, either by themselves or by someone responsible for them. A neglected person may not have enough food to eat, be living somewhere that’s cold, dirty or unsafe, they may not be appropriately dressed or might not seem to have washed recently. They may be being denied the important medical and social care that would keep them safe and well. It is important that everybody gets the professional help they need, especially if they take medication.

Self Neglect - Some people's ability to take and action decisions about keeping themselves safe may be compromised due to the impacts of trauma. This could present as behaviours that compromise health, wellbeing and safety, like self-harm, using drugs or alcohol, hoarding, or self-neglect.


Visit www.actagainstharm.org to view demonstrations of different types of harm.


Download the East Lothian and Midlothian Public Protection Committee (EMPPC) Multi-agency Adult Support and Protection Procedures

Download the EMPPC Multi-agency Adult Support and Protection Procedures - this outlines the duties and responsibilities of agencies concerned with the support and protection of adults in East Lothian and Midlothian.