Adult support and protection

All adults at risk of harm have the right to be safe and protected. 

The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 is designed to protect those adults who are unable to safeguard their own interests and are at risk of harm because they are affected by:

  • disability
  • mental disorder
  • illness
  • physical or mental infirmity

Harm means all harm including self-harm and neglect.

The Act requires councils and a range of public bodies to work together to support and protect adults who are unable to safeguard themselves, their property and their rights.

We enable and support those with responsibilities under the Act to carry out their duties effectively. We do this by ensuring adult support and protection legislation, policy and practice is improved and effective.

More information about how we are strengthening support for adult support and protection is in the following sections:

Improvement plan

We published our Adult Support and Protection Improvement Plan 2019-2022 in October 2019. The plan covers:

  • existing improvement activity
  • assurance
  • governance
  • data and information legislation
  • policy and guidance
  • practice improvement
  • prevention

Adult Protection Committees

The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 set up multi-agency Adult Protection Committees (APCs) in every council area. The Committee monitors and reviews what is happening locally to safeguard adults. It is made up of senior staff from many of the agencies involved in protecting adults who may be at risk.  

These include staff from the council, the NHS and the police.

APCs are chaired by independent convenors, who cannot be members or officers of the council. APCs have a central role to play in taking an overview of adult protection activity in each council area and making recommendations to ensure that adult protection activity is effective. APCs have a range of duties, which include:

  • reviewing adult protection practices
  • improving co-operation
  • improving skills and knowledge
  • providing information and advice
  • promoting good communication

Adult Protection Committees are required to submit a report to Scottish Ministers every two years. We have produced guidance for Adult Protection Committees.

Inspection programme

A multi-agency inspection programme will start later in 2019. This scrutiny will:

  • increase assurance that adults at risk are being protected
  • help identify further improvements if necessary

Significant case reviews

Significant Case Reviews (SCR) are multi-agency reviews held in circumstances where an adult has been abused or neglected resulting in serious harm or death.

We worked with partners to develop national guidance for Adult Protection Committees for conducting SCRs. We published this guidance in November 2019.

Adult Support and Protection (ASP) National Strategic Forum

We formed the Adult Support and Protection National Strategic Forum in November 2018. The forum is providing advice on the development of the improvement plan.

Adults with Incapacity

Adults with Incapacity (AWI) are those adults (people aged 16 or over) who lack capacity to take some or all decisions for themselves because of a mental disorder or an inability to communicate.

We are developing policy and associated guidance for the reform of AWI. This includes the following areas:

  • guardianships
  • Powers of Attorney
  • codes of practice

This work will take into account the current review of mental health legislation.

See the collection of forms and guidance relating to adults with incapacity.

More information

The Act Against Harm website provides information on who to contact when someone is at risk of harm.