Advice and Guidance

Safeguarding Adults

What is Safeguarding?

Darlington Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board has published an information leaflet which provides information about adults at risk of abuse and neglect, the kind of abuse that can happen, what to do if you have a concern about this and what happens when abuse is reported.  

Safeguarding adults is the multi-agency procedure used to protect people from abuse or neglect. The procedures are specifically for those people who are over the age of 18 years of age who have care and support needs and are at risk of abuse of neglect and because of the care and support needs are unable to protect themselves. 

This website provides a wealth of information about safeguarding adults, and guidance to help you decide whether to raise a safeguarding concern.

To make it easier for people to find the information they need, there are sections: Safeguarding Information for the Public and Safeguarding Information for Professionals [link] .

Darlington Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board has a responsibility to help and protect adults (18 years and over) with care and support needs who are experiencing or are at risk of abuse or neglect. The Care Act (2014) [external link]  tells us what we must do to safeguard adults.

We make sure that we listen to the views, wishes, feelings and beliefs of adults order to promote their wellbeing and we will always seek an outcome which improves the quality of life of the adult at the centre of the enquiry. This needs the commitment of agencies to follow the same policies and procedures.

The Statement of Government Policy on Adult Safeguarding (Department of Health) [PDF document] identifies six key principles of safeguarding practice and these are reinforced by the Care Act (2014):-

  • Empowerment
  • Prevention
  • Proportionality
  • Protection
  • Partnership   
  • Accountability    

This website explains what abuse and neglect means, what you can do if you or someone you know is being abused or neglected and what may happen next. Information about safeguarding children (anyone under the age of 18) can be found at the Safeguarding Children Board pages [internal link]

Return to top

What is Abuse?

Abuse is any behaviour towards a person that deliberately or unknowingly causes harm. If an adult is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect it should not be ignored. If you recognise abuse or neglect report it. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.

Return to top

Recognise it

SCIE Signs of Abuse [external link]

Abuse can happen in a number of ways. It can be:

  • Physical -  assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical interventions;
  • Sexual - rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual photography, or any unwanted sexual behaviours or exposure to sexual acts, where the person has not consented or were coerced which can include sexual exploitation.
  • Psychological/Emotional -  threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, being humiliated, being blamed, being controlled, being afraid or being devalued by others.  Anything said or written which causes upset, fear or anxiety including intimidation.
  • Neglect -  failure to provide access to appropriate health care, ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, or withholding the necessities of life such as medication, adequate nutrition or heating.
  • Discriminatory -  harassment, slurs or similar treatment because of race, religion or belief, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, age or disability, for example, where a person may be targeted because of their disability, and become a victim of a hate crime or incident.
  • Organisational - neglect or poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting, or in relation to care provided in a person’s own home. It can be through neglect, or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation this could be for example, inflexible routines or regimes.
  • Financial - where there has been theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion into an adult's financial affairs including in connection with wills, property inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of money, property, possessions or benefits.
  • Domestic Abuse - can take many forms and can include a range of types of abuse (see above) but can also include so called 'honour based violence' and forced marriage and coercive and controlling behaviour .
  • Modern Slavery - includes slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. This can involve deceiving and forcing individuals into a life of abuse, servitude, and inhumane treatment.
  • Self-Neglect - this covers a wide range of behaviour, neglecting to care for one's personal hygiene, health or surroundings and can include behaviour such as hoarding.

Return to top

Who can harm or abuse?

Anyone can harm or abuse - a partner, friend or family member, or people in positions of trust such as staff or volunteers. The person(s) causing harm or abuse may be known to the adult being harmed, but they could also be a stranger.

Return to top

Where does harm or abuse happen?

Abuse can happen anywhere, for example at home, work, college, in care settings, in hospitals or other health settings, or in public places.

Return to top

What should you do?

If you know or think someone is being abused or you are being abused, you should tell someone. Everyone has a responsibility to keep people safe. Tell someone you can trust or report your concern to Adult Social Care [external link]. 

Return to top

Who Do I Contact?

You may want to tell someone that something is happening to you.

You may be concerned about someone, whether you are a relative, a neighbour or a member of the public. Someone may tell you something that has happened to them or you may see or hear something happening, that makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable.

The priority is to keep people safe from harm. It can be difficult to identify the seriousness of a concern when the abuse is first recognised but where there is any concern at all, this should be reported. We will respond to all concerns.

Return to top

Report it

All reports are treated seriously. Police and Adult Social Care employees have a legal duty to make enquiries into the alleged abuse or neglect of adults at risk.

There are several ways you can report abuse. These include:

Completing the Safeguarding Adults Concern Form [word document] with accompanying Guidance Notes [PDF Document] and emailing to:

Darlington Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board has published a safeguarding poster explaining how members of the public can report abuse

Return to top


 If someone is in immediate danger contact the police on 999

If the situation is not an emergency but a crime has been committed contact the police on 101.

Return to top

First Point of Contact Team (Adult Social Care at Darlington Borough Council)  

You can explain that you wish to report a suspected case of adult abuse.

Telephone - 01325 406111
Fax - 01325 406824
Minicom - 01325 468504
If you require urgent help outside office hours, you can contact the Emergency Duty Team from 5pm on Friday to 9am on Monday and also on Bank holidays.

Telephone - 01642 524552
Minicom - 01642 602346


Return to top

What happens next

When a concern is reported we will work with the adult at risk and anyone else they would like to be involved, this may be a partner, family member or friend or another appropriate representative. 

Sometimes we may need to speak to other people to get or share more information, but we will ask for permission to do this. Sometimes the police may be involved if the person is in danger or a crime has been committed.

Sometimes we may hold a meeting to help us decide who should be involved. The adult at risk and anyone else they would like to be involved can take part in this meeting, and sometimes we just need to talk about the concern together, instead of a meeting.

At every point the adult at risk or a representative on their behalf will be involved. The adult at risk or their representative can tell us their views and wishes, what they want to happen, and what outcomes they want to achieve at any time. Sometimes, the person may need support from a family member, friend or advocate to help decide how to keep them safe, this will help us to plan to meet those needs. The person or their representative will always be fully involved in developing a plan to keep them safe, and how this may prevent and protect them from harm.

For any safeguarding concern it is important that the views and wishes of the adult at the centre of the enquiry are considered. If someone is in danger it is important that we make sure they are safe. It is important to talk about the concern and find out the best way to keep the person at risk or others safe.

There are several other organisations you can contact if you suspect abuse.

Return to top

Other services you may wish to contact include:

The Police
Darlington Area Headquarters
St Cuthbert's Way

Emergency Services - 999
Non Emergency - 101 Minicom users call 0191 3752090 (must be Minicom registered)
Durham Constabulary website  [external link]

County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
Darlington Memorial Hospital
Hollyhurst Road

Telephone - 01325 380100
Darlington Memorial Hospital [external link]

Darlington Clinical Commissioning Group
Dr Piper House
King Street

Telephone - 01325 364271
Darlington Clinical Commissioning Group [external link]

GP Surgeries You can find contact details for all doctors surgeries in Darlington here NHS Choices website [external link]

Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
West Park Hospital
Edward Pease Way

Telephone - 01325 552000

Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust [external link]

Return to top

Other Useful Contacts

Action on Elder Abuse
UK Helpline - 0808 808 8141
Action on Elder Abuse website [external link]

Age UK Advice Line telephone 0800 678 1174  Age UK [external link]  

Age UK Darlington telephone 01325 362832 Age UK Darlington  [external link] 

Care Quality Commission
Telephone - 03000 616161
Care Quality Commission website [external link]

Citizens Advice Bureau - Darlington
Telephone - 01325 380755
Citizens Advice Bureau website [external link]

Domestic and Sexual Abuse Network 
Telephone - 01325 364486
Domestic Abuse Contacts 

Family Help Darlington

Telephone 01325 364486

Family Help Darlington website [external link]

Harbour Support Services
Telephone - 03000 202525
Harbour Support Services [external link]

Domestic Abuse (Men)
Telephone - 0808 8010327

Men's Advice Line [external link] 

National Domestic Violence
Provides information about how to survive or leave situations of domestic violence and can put you in contact with a national network of safe houses for women experiencing domestic violence.
24 hour Helpline - 0808 2000 247
National Domestic Violence website [external link]

Panah Black Women's Refuge (Tyneside)
Telephone - 0191 284 6998

Panah [external link] or National Domestic Violence website[external link]

Darlington Safeguarding Children Board
Telephone - 01325 406450/406451/406452/406453/406459
Safeguarding Children Board

Doorstep Crime
Telephone - 01325 388799

Housing Department (Darlington)
Telephone -  01325 388529
Housing [external link]


A charity working with people with a learning disability and their families and carers.
Telephone - 020 7454 0454
MENCAP website [external link]

Telephone - 0845 766 0163
MIND website [external link]


Mencap logo

National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC)
A national charity dedicated to helping adult survivors of childhood abuse.
Telephone - 0800 085 3330
NAPAC website [external link]

napac logo

Rape and Sexual Counselling Telephone - 01325 369933

The Meadows
Telephone- 0191 3018554 

The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre website [external link]

The Meadows logo

Telephone - 0800 980 5907
Relate website [external link]

Relate logo

Telephone - 01325 465465 or 08457 90 90 90
Samaritans website [external link]

Samaritans Logo

Survivors UK
Provides information, support and counselling for men who have been sexually abused.
Telephone - 0845 122 1201 (7pm - 10pm, Mon,Tue,Thu)
Survivors UK website [external link]

Survivors UK logo

True Vision
To report Hate Crime on-line 
True Vision website [external link]

Victim Support
Telephone - 0845 277 0977 or 0191 2810491
Victim Support website [external link]

Return to top


What is Mental Capacity?

If you have mental capacity it means that you are able to make your own decisions. The legal definition says that someone who lacks capacity cannot do one or more of the following four things:

  • Understand the information given to them
  • Retain that information long enough to be able to make a decision
  • Weigh up the information available to make a decision
  • Communicate their decision.

We all have problems making decisions from time to time, but the Mental Capacity Act is about more than that. It is specifically designed to cover situations where someone is unable to make a decision because the way their mind or brain works or is affected, for instance by illness or disability or the effects of drugs or alcohol.

A lack of mental capacity could be due to:

  • A stroke or brain injury
  • A mental health problem
  • Dementia
  • A learning disability
  • Confusion, drowsiness or unconsciousness because of an illness or the treatment for it
  • Substance misuse

In any of these instances a person may lack mental capacity to make particular decisions at a particular time. It does not necessarily mean they lack mental capacity to make any decisions at all.

For example, a person with a learning disability may lack the capacity to make major decisions but this does not necessarily mean that they cannot decide what to eat, wear and do each day. A person with mental health problems may be unable to make decisions when they are unwell, but able to make them when they are well.

If a person lacks mental capacity to make a particular decision then it will need to be made in their 'best interests', taking into the persons wishes, feelings, beliefs and values.

Mental Capacity Act 2005 : A guide [external link]

Return to top

What is an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)?

The purpose of the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate is to help people who lack the mental capacity to make important decisions and, at the time such decisions need to be made, have no-one else (other than paid staff) to support or represent them or be consulted.

An IMCA can only be appointed by an NHS body or the local authority; and only in very specific circumstances that have been established in law. These are:

  • An NHS body is proposing to provide serious medical treatment
  • An NHS body or local authority is proposing to arrange accommodation (or change of accommodation) in hospital or a care home
  • An application for Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) is being made
  • Care Reviews
  • Safeguarding adults (this may be possible in some circumstances, even if family, friends or others are already involved)

There are specific criteria for when a referral should be made to an IMCA in each of these circumstances. For more information about refer to the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate: A guide [external link]

Return to top

What is a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard (DoLS)?

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (often referred to as DoLS)  are a legal safeguard for people who cannot make decisions about their care and treatment when they need to be cared for in a particularly restrictive way. They set out a process that hospitals and care homes should follow if they think it will be necessary to deprive a person of their liberty, in order to deliver a particular care plan in the person's best interests.

It is a serious step to deprive someone of their liberty and every effort should be made to prevent a deprivation of liberty occurring. However, there are some circumstances in which depriving a person of their liberty is necessary to protect them from harm, and is in their best interests.

The Supreme Court judgment of 19 March 2014 in the case of Cheshire West clarified an “acid test” for what constitutes a “deprivation of liberty” The ''acid test'' states that an individual is deprived of their liberty for the purposes of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights if they:

  • Lack the capacity to consent to their care/ treatment arrangements
  • Are under continuous supervision and control
  • Are not free to leave.

All three elements must be present for the acid test to be met.

A deprivation of liberty for such a person must be authorised in accordance with either the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS – part of the MCA), or by the Court of Protection or, if applicable, under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA).

The Supreme Court further held that factors which are NOT relevant to determining whether there is a deprivation of liberty include the person’s compliance or lack of objection to the proposed care/ treatment and the reason or purpose behind a particular placement. It was also held that the relative normality of the placement, given the person’s needs, was not relevant. This means that the person should not be compared with anyone else in determining whether there is a deprivation of liberty.  The Supreme Court also held that a deprivation of liberty can occur in community and domestic settings where the State is responsible for imposing such arrangements. This will include a placement in a supported living arrangement. Hence, where there is, or is likely to be, a deprivation of liberty in such settings, this should be authorised by the Court of Protection. The Court of Protection has held that the acid test also applies in acute non-psychiatric hospital settings.

NB: The deprivation of liberty safeguards do not apply to a person subject to detention under the Mental Health Act.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard DoLS: A guide [external link]

Return to top

Planning a time when you can no longer make decisions for yourself

The Mental Capacity Act sets out a range of ways by which people can plan for a time when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that, in the event that a person later becomes unable to make certain decisions, lets a trusted person make these decisions on their behalf. These replace Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA), although EPA's that have already been set up can still be registered.

There are two different types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

  • Health and welfare - which allows a person to choose one or more people to make decisions about things such as medical treatment on their behalf.
  • Property and financial affairs - which allows a person to choose one or more people to make property and financial affairs decisions on their behalf.

The Mental Capacity Act also provides for Advanced Decisions (also known as Advanced Directives) to Refuse Treatment. This enables someone to plan ahead and refuse specified medical treatment in the future, for a time when they lack the mental capacity to consent or refuse that treatment. Where these are valid and applicable, they have the same effect as a decision that is made by a person with capacity.

A person may also make an Advanced Statement as to the treatment or care they would like to be given in the future if they should become unable to decide for themselves. This is not legally binding but will help others to understanding their wishes and preferences.

These measures can help people plan for how their health, well being and financial affairs will be looked after when they are no longer able to do this for themselves.

Anyone may wish to consider creating a Lasting Power of Attorney, Advanced Decision or Advanced Directive. Those people with conditions that may result in them being unable to make decisions in the future will in particular benefit from considering these issues.

Lasting Power of Attorney : Age UK guide [external link] 

Return to top 

Age UK Logo

Domestic Abuse

What is domestic abuse?

Refuge Logo

Domestic abuse describes negative behaviours that one person exhibits over another within families or relationships. These patterns of behaviour can include threats, put-downs, isolation, violence and control. Sometimes domestic abuse can be called domestic violence. 

Domestic abuse can take different forms, including:

  • Physical abuse: pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, choking and using weapons.
  • Sexual abuse: forcing or pressuring someone to have sex (rape), unwanted sexual activity, touching, groping someone or making them watch pornography.
  • Financial abuse: taking money, controlling finances, not letting someone work.
  • Emotional abuse / coercive control: repeatedly making someone feel bad or scared, stalking, blackmailing, constantly checking up on someone, playing mind games. Coercive control is now a criminal offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015.
  • Digital / online abuse: using technology to further isolate, humiliate or control someone.
  • Honour-based violence and forced marriage 

 Everyone has the right to live in safety free from the fear of abuse. If you or someone you know is affected see the Refuge website [external link] for more information about domestic abuse and how to access help and support. 

The Domestic Abuse Offender Disclosure Scheme (DAODS) known as Clare's Law was established following the inquest of the murder of Clare Wood when it was highlighted the she would not have been in a relationship with her killer if she had known about his abusive past with previous partners. The scheme allows people to make inquiries about their partner if you are worried that they may have been abusive in the past. Further details are available on the Durham Constabulary website [External Link] 

The Darlington Partnership Board has produced a leaflet Domestic Abuse and the Workplace [link] providing advice to employers on how to respond if an employee is experiencing Domestic Abuse with useful contacts and helplines.    

Other useful contacts: 

Harbour Support Services [external link]
Telephone - 03000 20 25 25 (24 hours) 

freephone National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000247

Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre  01325 69933 [external link] [external link] [external link]


Habour logo

Return to top

Domestic Abuse: advice and support for men who experience abuse

Refuge [external link]

We recognise that men can also be victims of domestic violence – both in heterosexual and gay relationships. Everyone has the right to live in safety, free from fear – regardless of their gender but unfortunately it can be more difficult for men to access help and support services. Refuge [external link] runs a number of services for male victims of domestic violence across the country. These are primarily independent domestic violence advocacy and outreach services, which provide practical and emotional support for men who are experiencing domestic violence.

If you are a man who is being abused, you can read the Refuge website page of information and support [external link]. You may also find it helpful to read the areas of the website which talk generally about domestic violence [external link]. Or contact the freephone National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000247.

Return to top

Sexual Assault

The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre

The Meadows website [external link]

The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre aims to provide a sensitive and comprehensive service to residents of County Durham and Darlington who have experienced rape or sexual assault.  Our free services are available to both females and males. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, staff at The Meadows are there to help you recover physically and emotionally. Many women and men experience difficulties in coming to terms with their ordeal and in carrying on with their everyday life afterwards. There is no right or wrong way to respond in situations of sexual violence - it is important that you try to begin to feel safe again and be able to make your own decisions. The Meadows can offer a forensic medical examination, advice, support, counselling and sexual health screening, and we aim to provide help as soon as you feel ready, whether you wish to report the assault to the police or not.  If you do decide to report to the police, we can help you do so. The Meadows is furnished and decorated to provide comfortable, safe surroundings and is located approximately 4 miles outside of Durham City centre, with another smaller premises located in Darlington town centre.

Contact The Meadows on 0191 3018554. An answer machine is available outside office hours. 

Return to top

Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence

Forced marriage | Refuge website [external link]

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not or cannot (owing to learning disability or mental capacity) consent to the marriage and where duress is used. ‘Duress’ includes psychological, sexual, financial or emotional pressure and physical violence.

Forced marriage is a violation of human rights and is seen in the UK as a form of domestic violence and/or child abuse. It may affect girls, boys, women and men from any community or background. However, existing statistics show that greater numbers of women are affected. Forcing someone to marry without their consent is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty is seven years imprisonment. 

It is unlawful to:

• Take someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place)
• To marry someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not)

You could be a victim of forced marriage if: 

• You did not say YES to getting married
• You were not consulted or aware that you were getting married
• Your family or extended family used emotional pressure and/or physical violence to make you agree to marriage
• You have been forced to stay in confinement and have not be allowed to discuss your marriage with anyone

You could be at risk of forced marriage if: 

• Your family is arranging your marriage without your approval
• Your official papers or passport have been taken away
• You are being taken abroad and you are not sure why
• You have been told you must leave education

If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know you need specialist advice and support. Contact the Freephone National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000247 and check out the Refuge website Forced marriage | Refuge website [external link] for more information on this subject and other related matters. 

You can also contact the Forced Marriage Unit on [external link] or 020 70080151

Return to top

Mate Crime 

What is 'Mate Crime' ? There is no statutory definition of 'mate crime' in UK law. The term is generally understood to refer to the befriending of people who are perceived by perpetrators to be vulnerable, for the purposes of taking advantage of them or exploiting and abusing them. This can be strongly associated (though not exclusively) with people who have a learning disability, learning difficulties or a mental health condition.

'Mate crime' involves additional and complex issues which sometimes resonate with cases of domestic abuse. The perpetrator is likely to be seen as a close friend, a carer or family member who uses the relationship for exploitation.    

For further information and advice see the ARC UK website [external link]

Return to top



Know your limits- Advertisement [External Link]

Safeguarding Adult Review (SAR) 

The Darlington Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board will carry out a Safeguarding Adult Review (SAR) whenever an adult at risk who also has care and support needs (as defined by the Care Act 2014) has died or has been seriously harmed if abuse is known or suspected and there are concerns about how agencies worked together to safeguard the adult.

What is a Safeguarding Adult Review ? 

A Safeguarding Adult Review looks at how local organisations worked together to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of the adult at risk at the centre of the review. The review examines how we responded to the adult's individual circumstances and how we engaged with the adult and whether we followed the key principles of Safeguarding and worked in partnership to protect and empower the adult at risk and to prevent harm occurring in the future.  

The review considers what was done, identifies good practice as well as highlighting lessons which can be learned for the future and highlighting good practice. For more information have a look at our SAR leaflet: Information for families [link].

Back to Top