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The membership of Safeguarding Adults Boards

Membership of SABs – Members

Local authorities are responsible for the establishment of SABs. The Care Act 2014 specifies that there are three core members:

  • the local authority
  • clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)
  • the police – specifically the chief officer of police.

The Care Act allows for further members to be specified in future.

For a SAB to fulfil its responsibilities and duties effectively, other agencies will need to be involved in its work. The local authority, having consulted with the other core members of the SAB, should invite those agencies and forums it identifies to be key partners to nominate representatives. Particular individuals may also be invited to join the SAB if the board considers that it will be beneficial. SABs may also need to seek ‘one-off’ specialist advice or information in relation to any of their functions, in order to assist the implementation of their objectives. This may include seeking legal advice or consulting specialist advisors.

The selection of agencies and individual members needs to be guided by the need for the SAB to keep itself informed about its local community, and about any wider safeguarding issues and risks.

Central to the Care Act is the need to place people with care and support needs and carers at the heart of safeguarding activity. It is therefore essential that they are meaningfully involved in the work of SABs.

There are many potentially useful members of SABs in addition to those specified in the Care Act. A SAB has to balance the desirability of inclusion with the practicality of having a board of a manageable size. SABs may establish subgroups and may also appoint ‘task-and-finish’ groups. The core SAB agencies need to determine how the range of agencies and individuals having contributions to make should be selected.

The membership of SAB – Seniority and leadership

A SAB must include members who have sufficient seniority and leadership within their own agency to speak on its behalf, to commit resources and agree actions and to represent their agency should the SAB need to hold it to account.

The membership of SAB – Skills and experience

A SAB should have a range of members bringing different skills and experience to meetings, but all members should have attended safeguarding awareness training and have:

  • an understanding of abuse and neglect and their impact
  • knowledge of local safeguarding services
  • personal commitment to the six safeguarding principles
  • a clear understanding of their role and that of their agency within the SAB.

Issues to consider include:

  • Which are the key agencies, forums and individual members?
  • How many members can be accommodated for the SAB to function effectively?
  • Will members be required to nominate a named representative as their deputy?
  • Are an induction programme and information pack available for new members?
  • Which members are best engaged through subgroups and task-and-finish groups rather than full SAB membership?
  • How frequently does the SAB need to meet to ensure that members can develop trust and work together effectively to implement the strategic plan?
  • Will the SAB maintain an attendance register and how will it deal with persistent non-attendance?
  • Do members have sufficient seniority and decision-making authority within their agencies?
  • Is the experience, skill and knowledge mix in adult safeguarding on the SAB adequate to inform its work?
  • How will SAB meetings ensure that people with care and support needs and carers can participate fully?
  • How will meetings achieve and maintain an appropriate balance of support and challenge to SAB agency members?

The membership of SAB – Chair and vice-chair

The appointment of the chair is made by the local authority in consultation with the other statutory SAB members. The chairs of SABs are accountable to the chief executive of the local authority. This mirrors the position of the independent chairs of local safeguarding children boards. It is good practice for the chief executive to meet both chairs, together and separately.

The chair may be an employee of one of the member agencies of the SAB but may alternatively be a person independent of any of them. The performance of the chair is critical to the effectiveness of a SAB. The chair’s functions include:

  • providing leadership
  • promoting collaborative working
  • promoting good practice
  • providing advice, support and encouragement
  • facilitating the participation of people with care and support needs and carers
  • offering constructive challenges
  • holding member agencies to account
  • ensuring that interfaces with the other strategic boards are constructive
  • acting as the spokesperson for the SAB
  • developing and maintaining their knowledge and expertise in relation to safeguarding
  • endorsing and promoting good practice and quality services.

An independent chair can provide some independence from the local authority and other partners. This is especially important in terms of:

  • offering constructive challenge
  • holding member agencies to account
  • acting as a spokesperson for the SAB.

The SAB should appoint a vice-chair able to deputise effectively for the chair.

Issues to consider with regard to the chair and vice-chair include the following.

  • If the chair isn’t to be independent, will the role rotate between agencies or be the permanent responsibility of one agency?
  • What should be the ‘term of office’ of the chair? Should this be open to extension and, if so, how many times?
  • What support, if any, should be provided for the chair to maintain their knowledge base?
  • How will the chair respond to direct queries, concerns, complaints and whistleblowing from concerned individuals such as adults with care and support needs, carers, the public and practitioners?
  • Will the chair be encouraged and supported to join regional and national chair networks, sharing learning and promoting consistency?
  • If the chair is not independent from the statutory agencies, should the vice-chair be independent?
  • What practical arrangements need to be made concerning remuneration and expenses?