Preventing abuse and neglect
Guidance for housing managers
- ensure your staff receive training on prevention of abuse and neglect
- have systems in place to facilitate the identification of people with care and support needs and possible risks
- have mechanisms in place to identify and share information about people who may pose a risk
- ensure that there are links with the local multi-agency public protection arrangements
- ensure that your staff understand and follow multi-agency policies and procedures
- provide materials to raise awareness about abuse and how people can protect themselves
- develop strategies for educating tenants on how to recognise abuse and protect themselves from it
- seek to address social exclusion and isolation through local joint strategies
- promote inter-agency collaboration
- promote empowerment and choice
- ensure that allocations policies consider risk to tenants who may be vulnerable to abuse.
The ‘No secrets’ consultation report  highlighted practice examples in housing:
- developing a ‘prevention of abuse’ strategy based on risk indicators such as isolation, alcohol/substance misuse and mental illness
- empowering tenants and making them more connected with the community
- equipping people with information to safeguard themselves
- having named people for referrals and named people who support tenants while investigations are taking place
- working with tenants ‘whose behaviour poses risks to the wider community’
- holding community meetings, developing advocacy and intermediary services, working with police liaison officers and with neighbourhood safety initiatives.
While it is important for housing staff to respond promptly and appropriately to safeguarding concerns, it is always better to try to prevent people from being abused in the first place. People who are informed, in control of their lives and empowered to assert their views are less likely to be victims of abuse and neglect, and will be in a better position to speak out should it happen. The ‘No secrets’ consultation report showed that housing professionals already have an approach to empowering people that is markedly different to other safeguarding partners, who may sometimes take a more controlling approach.
SCIE work on prevention of abuse found that common interventions include training and education on abuse in order to help people recognise and respond to it. Local authorities and housing departments should work together to raise general public awareness of abuse and safeguarding. Housing staff can support individuals by ensuring they have access to the right support from social services, voluntary support agencies and health. They can also provide information on known problems in the area, such as distraction burglary.
Empowering people also involves respecting their rights, so it is important that people are not forced to move to avoid abuse. They may fear less security of tenure or moving from adapted or suitable accommodation. In addition, the person would face the disruption of moving and may lose essential support and ties within the community. Disabled women should never be placed in residential institutions as a solution to domestic abuse unless they expressly want this. 
The SCIE Report 41 covers preventing abuse in detail