Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007: Code of Practice

This revised Code of Practice aims to reflect the developments in policy, practice and legislation both in the overall context of adult support and protection and in day-to-day activity. It provides information and detail to support practical application of the 2007 Act.


The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 (the Act) was implemented in 2008, at which time the Scottish Government published an Adult Support and Protection Code of Practice (which included a section on Adult Protection Committees) and also Guidance for Adult Protection Committees. A revised Code of Practice was last published in 2014.

Since the implementation of the Act there have been a number of developments, both within the overall context of Adult Support and Protection and in day-to-day practice, that are not fully reflected in the Code of Practice (which was last revised in 2014) or in the previous Guidance for Adult Protection Committees. We have also now revised the Guidance for Adult Protection Committees.

There is now a growing appreciation that Adult Support and Protection can have direct relevance to a broader range of people than originally anticipated, including some people who have substance dependency problems or who are homeless. It can also potentially apply to people who may be being placed at risk, and whose human rights may be infringed, through inappropriate arrangements for their care.

APCs are now firmly located within local public protection governance structures that in all areas include reporting arrangements to Chief Officer Groups, and then variously through Integration Authorities and/or Community Planning Partnerships, matters which were not reflected in the previous Code of Practice or Guidance. Chief Social Work Officers are also very important to public protection arrangements, advising and assisting local authorities and their partners in relation to governance and fulfilment of statutory responsibilities, including adult protection.

The Adult Support and Protection National Strategic Forum, chaired by the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, has recognised the changed landscape within which Adult Support and Protection now operates. It therefore proposed that this was an appropriate time to undertake a review of the Adult Support and Protection Code of Practice. It further proposed that similar work will be undertaken to revise the guidance for APCs. These proposals were then agreed by the Minister.

The Code has been redrafted and refreshed after full consultation with members of the ASP National Strategic Forum and a range of other key stakeholders such as Social Work Scotland, ASP Conveners and ASP Lead Officers, NHS Chief Executives, GP committees etc. A number of national workshops have been held to help identify and refine key areas for amendment, and feedback on these draft amendments was also widely sought through public consultation via the Citizenspace website.

If there is one overarching theme to have come from this engagement process it is the need to continue to emphasise the message that adult support and protection is everyone's business and that it involves support as well as protection.

This revised Code of Practice therefore seeks to strengthen the guidance given regarding inter-agency co-operation and related matters. It also seeks to clarify guidance and processes, and to achieve greater clarity in relation to capacity and consent in so far as these terms apply to adult support and protection.

The Act requires that a Code of Practice be published containing guidance about the performance of functions under the Act by councils, their officers and health professionals, and these are therefore the primary audience for this Code. However some parts of the Act have specific relevance to the Police of which councils, their officers and health professionals should be aware, and these aspects are therefore included in the Code.

Other public bodies, and other agencies in the statutory, third and voluntary sectors will have a direct interest in the contents of this revised Code which should also inform their own internal procedures for adult support and protection.

What changes have been made to the Code of Practice?

A range of updating amendments have been made across many chapters.

The substantive amendments are:

  • More detail about the three-point criteria in section 3 of the Act
  • Clarification on capacity and consent
  • Emphasis on the duty to refer and co-operate in inquiries
  • Clarification regarding information sharing expectations
  • Clarification of relationship between inquiries and investigations
  • New sections on referrals and related matters
  • Further detail and clarification on visits and interviews
  • New chapter on assessing and managing risk including case reviews and large scale investigations
  • New section on chronologies



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