Vulnerable adults’ protection

International Alert believes all adults at risk ('vulnerable adults') have a right to protection from harm. This includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as exploitation, neglect or bullying.

We will not tolerate any abuse, exploitation or neglect of vulnerable adults, and it is against the beliefs, values and aims of the organisation. This policy formalises this and is the framework that applies whenever we work with adults at risk.

This framework should be sufficient to enable staff, partners and other associates to take appropriate and timely safeguarding action locally, allowing for local demographics and
environmental characteristics.

However, they should all reflect the key principles set out below.


  • Empowerment: Presumption of person-led decisions and informed consent.
  • Protection: Support and representation for those in greatest need.
  • Prevention: It is better to take action before harm occurs.
  • Proportionality: Proportionate and least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
  • Partnership: Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse.
  • Accountability: Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.

Principles into practice

  • Empowerment: We give individuals relevant information about recognising abuse and the choices available to them to ensure their safety. We give them clear information about how to report abuse and crime as well as any necessary support in doing so. We consult them before we take any action. Where someone lacks capacity to make a decision, we always act in the person’s best interests.
  • Protection: Our local complaints, reporting arrangements for abuse and suspected criminal offences and risk assessments work effectively. Our governance arrangements are open and transparent and communicated to all.
  • Prevention: We can effectively identify and appropriately respond to signs of abuse and suspected criminal offences. We make staff aware, through provision of appropriate training and guidance, of how to recognise signs of abuse and take any appropriate action to prevent abuse occurring. In all our work, we consider how to make communities safer.
  • Proportionality: We discuss with the individual and, where appropriate, with partner agencies the proportionality of possible responses to the risk of significant harm before we take a decision. Our arrangements support the use of professional judgement and the management of risk.
  • Partnership: We have effective local information-sharing and multi-agency partnership arrangements in place and staff understand these. We foster a ‘one team’ approach that places the welfare of individuals above organisational boundaries.
  • Accountability: The roles of all agencies are clear, together with the lines of accountability. Staff understand what is expected of them and others. Agencies recognise their responsibilities to each other, act upon them and accept collective responsibility for safeguarding arrangements.

Outcomes for adults at risk

  • Empowerment: Adults at risk feel consulted about the outcomes they want from the safeguarding process and these directly inform what happens.
  • Protection: Adults at risk feel they are provided with help and support to report abuse. They feel supported to take part in the safeguarding process to the extent to which they want and to which they are able.
  • Prevention: Adults at risk feel they are provided with easily understood information about what abuse is, how to recognise the signs and what they can do to seek help.
  • Proportionality: Adults at risk feel confident that the responses to risk will take into account their preferred outcomes or best interests.
  • Partnership: Adults at risk feel confident that information will be appropriately shared in a way that takes into account its personal and sensitive nature. They are also confident that agencies will work together to find the most effective responses for their situation.
  • Accountability: Adults at risk are clear about the roles and responsibilities of all those involved in the solution to the problem.

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