What to do if you think someone is at risk of abuse
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Some people don't want to tell others that they are being abused. This may be because they don't want the person to get into trouble. They may prefer to ignore the problem in the hope that it will go away. Other people are ashamed or afraid of what will happen to them if they tell.
If you think you are being abused, rest assured that it is not your fault and that there are ways in which you can get help. Don't ignore the problem, it will probably not go away on its own.
- Do not confront the person you think is responsible for the abuse.
- Do not disturb or destroy anything that may be evidence.
- Do not start to investigate the situation.
- If the person is immediate danger, you should call the emergency services by dialling 999.
If you are looking after someone, or they are looking after you, this person may make you feel under pressure. To stop this happening, you might want to:
- talk to a person you trust about what your fears are and what you want to happen.
- be aware of local services that can help,
- agencies who can provide a paid care worker to help you with personal care
- talk to a carers service
- talk to your extended family about the support they might be able to offer
- speak to social services
Often couples can struggle to care for one another when situations change. Follow the advice above about how you can get help if this feels like this is happening to you.
If you don't think you need immediate help from the police or are worried about calling them, then you can call social services. It is important to remember that if you are being abused, it is not your fault. Please don't worry about telling others that you think you are being abused - it is important that you get help. If you want, you can ask someone else to contact the council on your behalf. Your call can remain anonymous.
Call the number for your local council:-
Hammersmith & Fulham Social Services
Tel: 020 8753 4198 / 020 8748 8588 (out of hours line)
To tell Hammersmith & Fulham about any concerns you have (known as 'raising a Safeguarding Alert') you can ring them on the above numbers or complete and send this alert form to them.
Hammersmith & Fulham have also produced easy-to-read leaflets "Say no to abuse" which tells you more about abuse and neglect, and "Keeping safe from abuse" which explains more about what will happen once you have reported your concerns.
Kensington and Chelsea Social Services
To tell Kensington and Chelsea about any concerns you have (known as 'raising a Safeguarding Alert') you can ring them on the above numbers or complete and send this alert form to them.
Kensington and Chelsea have also produced easy-to-read leaflets "Say no to abuse" which tells you more about abuse and neglect, and "Keeping safe from abuse" which explains more about what will happen once you have reported your concerns.
Westminster Social Services
Safeguarding helpline: 020 7641 2176
Tel: 020 7641 6000 (out-of-office-hours)
Fax: 020 7641 1593
To tell Westminster about any concerns you have (known as 'raising a Safeguarding Alert') you can ring them on the above numbers or complete and send this alert formto them.
Westminster have also produced easy-to-read leaflets "Say no to abuse" which tells you more about abuse and neglect, and "Keeping safe from abuse" which explains more about what will happen once you have reported your concerns.
When you or someone you know has reported an incident of alleged abuse or neglect a member of your council's staff will contact you.
They will ask your permission before they take any further actions, or share any information about the situation with other people.
If you have great difficulty in giving permission (perhaps because you have a mental health problem or difficulties when communicating) they will ask a relative, unpaid carer or friend to give permission on your behalf. They can also arrange for an advocate to help you to give your views.
In some situations where other people may also be at risk of abuse, or if you are not able to make your own decision because of mental problem, they may need to take action or share information without your permission - they will explain clearly to you when this is the case.
The Care Act 2014 sets out some 'key priniciples' on how health and social care professionals should work with you, including when you have been subjected to abuse or neglect. Those principles are:-
- You know best
- Your views, wishes, feelings and beliefs should always be considered
- The main aim of professionals should be on your well-being, on reducing your need for care and support, and on reducing the likelihood that you will need care and support in the future
- Any decisions made should take into account all relevant circumstances
- Any decisions should be made with your involvement
- Your well-being should be balanced with that of any involved family and friends
- Professionals should always work to protect you and other people from abuse and neglect
- Professionals should ensure that any actions taken to protect you affect your rights and freedom as little as possible
Where the abuse is also a crime - such as assault, racial harassment, rape or theft - call the police on 999. You should always do this if you are worried that you or someone you know is in immediate danger
If you or someone else is or has been injured as the result of abuse or neglect then you should seek medical advice and treatment - if the injury is serious then call 999 and ask for an ambulance
If you cannot make voice calls, you can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone. However, you will only be able to use this service if you have registered with emergencySMS first. See the emergencySMS website for details.
In less urgent cases you can contact the police without using the emergency 999 service:-
- Call the central police reporting line on 0300 123 12 12 or ring 101 (the police non-emergency number) to report a previous incident
- Visit your local police station or call your local police Safer Neighbourhood Team - find details here
Victim Support is the national independent charity that offers support to victims of crime.
They will help by providing you with information, practical help and emotional support, and do this by:
- always prioritising your safety
- giving you time to think and to make decisions
- offering continued support whatever decisions you make
- putting you in touch with other agencies that can help, for example with housing, benefits and legal advice
- helping you to explore your options for dealing with the aftermath of the crime
Their services are confidential, free and available to everyone.
Victim Support accepts referrals from official and other organisations as well as self-referrals from individuals themselves, whether or not you want to report the crime to the police and regardless of when it happened.
You can contact Victim Support:
- Call the West London Victim Assessment and Referral Service on freephone 0808 168 9291.
Lines are open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm on Saturdays.
- You can also contact your local victim care team in West London on 020 7259 2424.
Lines are open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.
- Alternatively, you can contact them via live chat - normal operating hours are from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Safeguarding Annual Report 2017-18 from The Safeguarding Adults Executive Board which provides leadership of adult safeguarding across the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham; the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; and the City of Westminster. (Previous reports can be found in the annual reports section here)
Action on Elder Abuse aims to prevent abuse of older people by raising awareness, and by education, promotion, research, collection and dissemination of information.
The Foundation for People With Learning Disabilities has produced an easy-read leaflet called 'Loneliness and Cruelty' in which people with learning disabilities describe their experience of harassment, abuse and related-crime in the community
The Easy Health website has gathered together various easy-read leaflets and videos which will help people with learning disabilities to understand what abuse is, and to know what to do if they think they are being subjected to abuse.
Our colleagues at Suffolk County Council have produced an excellent video which explains more about abuse and neglect, and may be particularly helpful for people with learning disabilities or dementia.
The Disrespect Nobody website provides specialist advice on what can be abuse and what to do if you find yourself in an abusive relationship.