Key messages for gaining access to an adult suspected to be at risk of neglect or abuse: a guide for social workers and their managers in England
Published: October 2014
- Under Section 42 of the Care Act 2014, local authorities have a duty to make, or cause to be made, enquiries in cases where they reasonably suspect that an adult with care and support needs is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and, as a result of those needs, is unable to protect themselves from this actual or risk of abuse and neglect.
- This duty to make or to cause adult safeguarding enquiries to be made does not provide for an express legal power of entry or right of unimpeded access to the adult who is subject to such an enquiry. Instead, there are a range of existing legal powers which are available to gain access should this be necessary. The powers which may be relevant to adult safeguarding situations derive from a variety of sources including the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA), the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), along with the common law including the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court and common law powers of the police to prevent or deal with a breach of the peace.
- Whether it is necessary to seek legal intervention and which powers would be the most appropriate to rely on in order to gain access to an adult to assess any safeguarding risk or otherwise protect an adult will always depend on the individual circumstances of the case.
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- Gaining access to an adult suspected to be at risk of neglect or abuse: a guide for social workers and their managers in England