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What to do if you are worried an adult is being abused

If you are concerned that an adult may be at risk of abuse or know of a worrying situation you must report it. Call Plymouth City Council's Adult Social Care Team on 01752 668000 or complete our online form.

Report adult abuse

An adult at risk is someone aged 18 years or over who might not be able to look after themselves, protect themselves from harm or stop themselves being exploited. They may:

  • have a mental health problem or illness including dementia
  • be involved with drug or alcohol abuse
  • have a physical or learning disability
  • be old and frail
  • not be able to speak up for themselves
  • neglect themselves and/or their home

Types of abuse

Adult abuse takes many forms including:

  • physical abuse such as hitting, slapping or pushing
  • neglect such as not being cared for properly, ignoring medical or physical needs, not having enough food, water or heating
  • emotional or psychological abuse such as shouting or swearing, threats or intimidation, not being allowed to see friends and family or make your own choices
  • sexual abuse such as unwanted touching, kissing or sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent or with pressured consent
  • financial abuse such as theft, forcing someone to sign over money or property, making financial transactions without consent
  • discriminatory abuse such as comments about someone's disability, age, illness or sexual orientation
  • domestic abuse such as controlling, forceful or threatening behaviour, honour based violence and female genital mutilation
  • modern slavery such as human trafficking and forced labour

What we do when we get a report

We'll make enquiries and collect as much information as we can from other agencies involved. We'll take into account the wishes of the person you're worried about and the seriousness of the situation.

We'll offer them information and advice so they can make a choice about any help they need or action they want to take. If they can't make an informed choice, we'll take action to support and protect them in their best interest.

What to do if you are worried a child is being abused

Call 999 if the child is in real danger now.

If you're worried about a child or young person or think they're being abused, even if you're unsure, call 01752 668000 or email

The Gateway service is made up of multi-agency professionals who can give you advice, information and support. You can also contact the NSPCC if you want to talk to someone about your concerns and get advice.

What to report

Child abuse takes many forms including physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and neglect. Find out more about child abuse and how to spot the signs.

When you get in touch with us we'll ask you some questions such as:

  • the child's name and date of birth
  • the address and contact details for the child's parent or carer
  • why you think the child is at risk or is being abused

What happens once it's been reported

All agencies involved with the child, such as the police or the child's school, will work out together what support is needed to keep them safe.

Sometimes there's nothing to worry about and we don't need to do anything. Sometimes we need to put together a plan to make sure the child is kept safe.

Everyone involved will work hard with the family to keep the child at home, but if it's not safe for them to stay with their family then in some cases a child can be taken in to care to keep them safe.

Referrals by professionals

Call 999 if the child is in real danger now.

If you're a professional with an urgent child protection concern, please make an immediate referral by calling the Multi-Agency Hub on 01752 305200 (or 01752 346784 out of hours) or email

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