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Adults at risk have the right to be kept safe from abuse and neglect.

Every individual has a right to:

  • a life free from fear
  • be treated with dignity
  • have their choice respected and not be forced to do anything against their will

Parents, guardians and carers have the main responsibility for keeping adults at risk safe and promoting their well-being. But parents, guardians and carers may have their own issues and problems and need extra support to do so.

Some adults at risk can be totally dependent on their parents, guardians or carers. They may or may not know it, and it can be hard for them to ask for help.

It’s everyone’s job to make sure that adults at risk get help when they need it, where parents, guardians or carers don’t seem to be managing to meet their needs. This can be happening within any kind of family, anywhere in Shetland.

Who are Adults at Risk?

  • "Adult" means an individual aged 16 years or over. Adults at risk have additional support needs and may be dependent on others.

    Adults at risk might be:

    • Older people or people with illnesses who are dependent on the help of others
    • People with learning disabilities
    • People with a physical or sensory impairment
    • People with mental health problems
    • People unable to protect themselves from serious harm or being taken advantage of
    • People who are controlled or suppressed by dominant partners

    Most adults with additional support needs manage to live their lives comfortably and securely, either independently or with assistance from caring relatives, friends, neighbours, professionals or volunteers. However, for a small number, dependence on someone may produce conflict, exploitation and harm.

What is harm?

  • "Harm" includes all hurtful conduct

    In particular, it includes:

    • Physical harm - hitting, pushing, shaking, restricting freedom
    • Sexual harm - sexual activity without consent, sexual harassment, photographing
    • Financial harm - adversely affecting property, rights or interests (such as theft, fraud or extortion)
    • Neglect - denial of medical care, food, heating, privacy
    • Self-harm - If the adult engages or is likely to engage in conduct which causes self harm
    • Discriminatory harm - against age, race, culture, disability, gender, background or sexual orientation
    • Psychological harm - such as causing fear, alarm or distress, threatening behaviour, verbal abuse, controlling or bullying
  • Possible signs of harm are
    • Physical harm - unusual or unexplained injuries, a delay in seeking treatment for injuries or illness, sudden increase in confusion, unexplained deterioration of health or appearance
    • Sexual harm - unexplained changes of behaviour, becoming anxious or withdrawn, fear of another person
    • Financial harm - unexplained debt, not paying bills, another person using the adult’s possessions, bank account or property without his or her informed consent
    • Neglect - not having their basic needs met, such as adequate food or heating not being provided with adequate information about their rights or entitlements, or being misinformed, the adult at risk not receiving appropriate care
    • Self-harm signs may include unexplained injuries and signs of depression or low-self esteem (such as burning or cutting skin, punching themselves or an eating disorder)
    • Discriminatory harm - prejudicial actions or remarks to the adult at risk about age, gender, disability, race, colour, sexual or religious orientation
    • Psychological harm - people being anxious or afraid, misuse of medication - not giving medicines properly, unexplained changes of behaviour, becoming anxious or withdrawn, fear of another person, pressure by family or professionals to have someone moved into or taken out of care, hostile or unkind behaviour by a person

Financial Harm

  • What is financial harm?

    “Financial harm can lead to someone feeling under pressure to hand over money or possessions. It can involve exploitation of property or welfare benefits or stopping someone getting their money or possessions, stealing, cheating or fraud. It includes an adult being under pressure to re-write a will. (definition from Act Against Harm website http://www.actagainstharm.org/what-is-harm )

    “The intentional or opportunistic appropriation of the income, capital or property of a vulnerable person through theft, fraud, deception, undue influence or exploitation ; including the hoarding of a vulnerable person's resources for future gain which is also a form of exploitation and may be associated with culpable neglect” Brown 2003 (quoted by Scot Gov)

  • Anyone can be the victim of a fraud

    and criminals can be very clever at targeting more vulnerable or older people through e mails, post or telephone. In some families it may be adults who are facing their own problems such as alcohol or drug misuse who may seek to take financial advantage of more vulnerable or older family members. It is also important to remember that financial harm can also be connected to other forms of harm such as neglect and psychological abuse.

  • Let's Talk about Scams

    Everyone should be aware that scams can take many forms. People in Shetland report scammers pretending to be from all kinds of well-known organisations and businesses, including HMRC, TV Licensing and banks. The scammer is trying all kinds of ways to get us to part with personal or financial information, in order to get their hands on our money. Scammers can make it appear that they are calling from genuine phone numbers, which helps to make their story more plausible.

    Top Tips:

    • The first conversation with a scam victim is key. Never victim blame or shame.
    • If you get a phone call or message that you know is a scam, tell your friends and family about it. This will help raise awareness– and will show that anyone can be targeted. Take away the shame.
    • But avoid sharing ‘warnings’ that have gone viral on social media unless you know the source – these could inadvertently be spreading scam content and misinformation.
    • Chat about scams at the dinner table or when meeting with friends – perhaps about a new trend you’ve read about, like cryptocurrency or WhatsApp ‘friend in need’ scams.
    • At community gatherings such as lunch clubs, religious events or drop-in centres, consider having a discussion on scams. Find out more at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/become-a-scamchampion
    • If you work with young people, share information about scams – young adults are the most likely to have been targeted – and to have lost money.
    • If you know a person who may be affected by vulnerability and you think they may have been a victim or are at risk, bring up the topic gently. You can broach the subject by mentioning a news report or example you’ve seen that sounds similar to their situation. Make sure they know where to get help if they’re worried.
    • Ensure everyone in your family knows scams should be reported to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or on 0300 123 2040. For advice about scams you can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133, or use their online tool at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/reporting-a-scam/.
    • Visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk for information and updates on the latest scams.

Anti Bullying

Where to get help?

What to do and who to contact?

If you are being harmed, or are concerned that someone you know may be at risk of harm you should speak to someone about it as soon as you can.

If you or the person being harmed is in immediate danger you should ring the Police on 999, for non-emergency Police Scotland can be contacted on 101. Please feel free to share or print below contact card.