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Adult Support and Protection

Series of images showing examples of adults at risk

Everybody has the right to be safe and well-looked after. The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 (the Act) is there to protect adults vulnerable to harm/abuse.

Who does the Act say is an "adult at risk" of harm

"Adults at risk" are adults who —

  • are unable to safeguard their own well-being, property, rights or other interests,
  • are at risk of harm, and
  • because they are affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than adults who are not so affected.

An adult is at risk of harm if —

  • another person's conduct is causing (or is likely to cause) the adult to be harmed, or
  • the adult is engaging (or is likely to engage) in conduct which causes (or is likely to cause) self-harm


What is harm?

Harm is defined as all harmful conduct. Some examples of this include:

Physical - hitting, slapping, pushing, shaking, locking them in a room.

Psychological - threats of harm, being left alone, humiliation, intimidation, causing distress, verbal abuse, bullying, blaming, constant criticism, controlling, depriving contact with others.

Neglect - failure to provide medical or physical care, access to a doctor or other services, or denying someone medication, food or heating, privacy or dignity, self neglect.

Financial - stealing, fraud, pressure to hand over or sign over property or money, misuse of property or welfare benefits, or stopping someone getting their money or possessions.

Sexual - any sexual activity that a person doesn't understand or want. Sexual exploitation is a particular form of harm that can affect children, young people and vulnerable adults. View further information on sexual exploitation and how to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults.

Who can cause harm?


It could be a:

  • member of staff in any setting;
  • carer;
  • partner, child or relative;
  • friend or neighbour;
  • volunteer; or
  • stranger.

Where can harm happen?


It can happen in the family home, hospital ward, care home, day services, social clubs, day centres, at work and in public places.

Useful Resources

An easy read version of the The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 can be accessed by clicking here.

A guide to identifying and helping Adults at Risk of Harm can be found here:

Click on the links below for more information on support and resources available:


Click here for information on the South Ayrshire Adult Protection Committee
Click here to access useful resources
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Contact Adult Support and Protection

South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership
Adult Support and Protection
Elgin House
1st Floor Main Building
Ailsa Hospital
Dalmellington Road

Tel: 01292 616102


Opening hours

  • Monday - Thursday 8.45am to 4.45pm
  • Friday 8.45am to 4pm

Closed on public holidays.