Adult Support and Protection

A Personal Assistants’ (PAs) responsibilities for Adult Support and Protection

The legislation that covers this area is called The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007. It deals with adults deemed at risk of harm who:

  • Are unable to safeguard themselves, their property, rights or other interests
  • Are at risk of harm
  • Because they are affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than others who are not so affected

The Act places a duty on local councils to:

  • Make the necessary inquiries and investigations to establish whether or not further action is required to stop or prevent harm occurring
  • A requirement for specified public bodies to co-operate with local councils and each other about adult protection investigations
  • A range of protection orders including assessment orders, removal orders and banning orders
  • The establishment of multi-disciplinary Adult Protection Committees

The definition of harm

For the purposes of the Act, ‘harm’ includes all harmful conduct and, in particular, includes:

  • Conduct which causes physical harm
  • Conduct which causes psychological harm (e.g. by causing fear, alarm or distress)
  • Unlawful conduct which appropriates or adversely affects property, rights or interests (e.g. theft, fraud, embezzlement or extortion)
  • Conduct which causes self-harm

Harm may be caused by

  • A person well known to the adult, including relatives and those employed to support the person
  • A stranger
  • The person themselves
  • A situation, for example when an adult’s ability to manage independently declines and appropriate support has not been established

If you have concerns about an adult who may be the victim of harm, or is at risk of harm

Report your concerns to the local authority social work department or the police. Any report, including anonymous referrals, should be taken seriously by the Local Authority. It is good practice to let the adult know you are concerned, but even if they refuse consent, you must pass on your concern.

The Local Authority must make enquiries and has a number of powers to help protect an adult at risk of harm, such as:

  • A visit to interview the adult, to explain what support services may be available to them or to offer them a medical examination if appropriate
  • Requiring health, financial or other records to be produced
  • An application to court for a protection order

Any intervention in an adult’s affairs must provide benefit to them and should restrict their freedom as little as possible. The Local Authority must consider the wishes and views of the adult at risk and efforts must be made to help them communicate their views.

Next steps

Take a look at the additional resources below.

Part of
Last Updated
13 July 2022
First Published
02 May 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.