Differences Between Safeguarding in Wales and England

The first thing to remember about safeguarding in England and Wales is that it is different.

So if you are working across into Wales from England or into England from Wales, try not to make assumptions. Think, read, and ask.

Who needs to know the differences?

Anyone who works with adults who live or spend any of their time in Wales needs to know. So does anyone who runs services located in Wales or near the border.

Wales is a Devolved Nation

Wales is a devolved nation. That means that some of the powers of government are handled by the Senedd – the Welsh Parliament. They sometimes make different decisions than the decisions Westminster makes for England.

Health is one of the areas that has been devolved. Social Services is another. In Wales, the Care Act 2014 does not apply. Instead, Wales has the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (SS&WB Act).

Policing isn’t devolved. Criminal law and some other legislation passed in the Houses of Parliament – such as the Mental Capacity Act (2005) – apply in Wales as well as in England.

Safeguarding Boards in Wales are Regional

They cover more than one local authority. They address both child and adult safeguarding and do not have an independent chair. There is also a National Safeguarding Board.

There are clearly specified circumstances and procedures for carrying out Adult Practice Reviews (called SARs in England).

National Safeguarding Procedures

The National Safeguarding Procedures cover all 22 local authorities and they address both child and adult safeguarding.

You can see the most up-to-date procedures with a dedicated safeguarding app.

Nevertheless, there are still different reporting arrangements and different alignments of safeguarding resources in the different local authorities. Some have dedicated safeguarding teams. Others disperse the work throughout Adult Social Services and some Health Board teams.

Different Safeguarding Principles

The SS&WB Act recognises safeguarding as one strand of our wellbeing. The Act as a whole encourages person-centred working.

In Wales you don’t need to learn the Care Act’s six principles of safeguarding. Instead you need to recognise the 7 principles of the SS&WB Act. These include:

  • Voice and Control
  • Prevention and Early intervention
  • Wellbeing
  • Co-production and Multi agency working

Being person-centred also means enabling the person at risk to communicate in their own language.

Almost 30% of the population speak Welsh. In the Gwynedd county, 75% speak Welsh.

So any organisation working in Wales needs to be able to meet the requirements and standards of the Welsh Language Measure 2011.

All Organisations Have a Duty to Report all Safeguarding Concerns to the Local Authority.

This code of practice extends to community-based organisations.

This sounds like it could contradict person-centred working. There might be circumstance where the person does not want the Local Authority involved.

It can indeed lead to some difficult conversations with the adult at risk. Being person-centred still means involving the person if it’s safe to do so – which might require the referrer to make some clear decisions.

However, under Human Rights conventions, Wales has a duty to protect its citizens. It must offer particular help to those who are elderly or disabled. And for this, it must be aware of all situations concerning an adult at risk.

Once it receives a report, the Local Authority has a duty to carry out enquiries. This helps them establish how to respond to the report. At this point they’ll consider the wishes of the adult at risk.

This approach is consistent with a reminder in the statutory guidance to the SS&WB Act: People with care and support needs face difficulties protecting themselves due to the coercion they may experience if they’re at risk from those providing their care and support.

The Definition of an “Adult at Risk”

In Wales the definition of an adult at risk is broadly the same as it is in England:

An adult at risk of abuse or neglect – who has care and support needs – where those care and support needs prevent them from taking action to stop the abuse.

The difference is that, in Wales, this definition does not include self neglect.

In Wales, self neglect falls under ‘mainstream’ assessment of care and support needs.

Different Categories of Abuse

In England, the Care Act recognises 10 categories of abuse.

The Wales Safeguarding Procedures recognises the following forms of abuse:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Financial

The Procedures recognise that all these forms of abuse can take place in different contexts, such as domestic abuse, modern slavery, institutional abuse, and so on.

Adult Protection and Support Orders (APSO)

In Wales each Local Authority has a designated officer who can apply to the Magistrate’s Court for an Adult Protection and Support Order (APSO).

An APSO enables the local authority to enter a property to ascertain if there is an adult at risk. This is usually a social worker, who might work with the help of the police if necessary.

There are some situations where an abuser might be keeping an adult away from services. In these situations an APSO can be extremely useful. But an APSO application has to include evidence of all the other ways you have tried to meet with the adult. This can make collaboration difficult, which unfortunately means that APSOs aren’t used as often as they might be.

But sensibly, the guidance also requires any application for an APSO to include a plan as to what happens after the order has been used.

The Role of the Local Authority Designated Officer

In Wales, the role of Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) extends across children’s safeguarding to include safeguarding adults at risk.

Sometimes, someone who may be causing harm to an adult at risk might work, volunteer or live with other adults who may be at risk. In these cases, the LADO will coordinate the assessment of risk to all of those adults, as well as the response to the person suspected of causing harm.

The Duty to Ask and Act

The Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 contains a measure that is relevant to Safeguarding Adults at Risk. This is the Duty to ‘Ask and Act’.

The Act places this duty on ‘relevant authorities’, including safeguarding services. They must be able to work proactively to identify those experiencing domestic abuse. They must also offer access to relevant support services.

Further Differences Between England and Wales

These are all legal/regulatory differences specific to Safeguarding Adults. There are other differences between England and Wales that are relevant to safeguarding as well. They include:

  • Different configurations of the regulators of Health and Social Care and of relevant professionals.
  • Different structures in the NHS.
  • The challenges of delivering services across large rural areas.
  • Different housing legislation.
  • The multitude of independent and third sector care organisations that have bought property in Wales to offer services to children and/or Adults from England.

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Safeguarding Adults in Wales Online Course

We have a range of safeguarding adults eLearning courses to help you learn more about safeguarding adults at risk and learn how to recognise the signs of abuse, including our Safeguarding Adults in Wales introductory course. Ideal for those who live or work in Wales with adults or where adults are present.

Safeguarding Adults in Wales eLearning Courses