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Know your role

To help you follow the correct procedure, we've written explanations of the different roles that people have when an adult safeguarding concern is raised.



An Alerter is the person who raises the concern. Anyone can be an Alerter. Abuse may be identified in a wide range of contexts and therefore concerns can be expressed by a variety of different people. For example:

  • Paid employees and volunteers within the council, health, education, partner agencies or voluntary sector
  • Police
  • Care staff (paid and volunteers), nursing staff, agency staff and managers within independent care homes and domiciliary care agencies
  • Students on placement within services where adults may be vulnerable
  • Probation staff
  • Staff from housing services including sheltered housing schemes and supported living schemes
  • Carers, friends, family, relatives, neighbours, members of the public or community

The above is not an exhaustive list and will include anyone who has knowledge of, or comes into contact with, an adult who may be vulnerable or at risk.

The adult who is at risk, or is being abused, may themselves want to tell someone in order to receive help and support.

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Responsible Person

The person who receives the concern from the Alerter is called the Responsible Person.

It is the role of the Responsible Person to receive and review the information provided, and any action taken, including any immediate safeguarding measures. It is important, therefore, that each agency clearly identifies who is their Responsible Person. This should be recorded in the Individual Agency Guidance document.

Where the individual is, or has been considered to be at immediate risk, a safeguarding action plan must be in place to safeguard the person(s). Based upon the information gathered, the Responsible Person will apply the ADASS Threshold Matrix Guidance. This will support decision making regarding which level of harm is the most appropriate given the facts and circumstances presented, enabling action to be taken accordingly, including any further action required to safeguard the adult at risk.

It is the role of the Responsible Person to receive and review the information provided by the Alerter and apply the threshold guidance to determine the level of harm. The Responsible Person is required to review any action taken by the Alerter, including immediate safeguarding measures, and consider whether any additional measures are required to lower the level of risk. The Responsible Person will then complete the Safeguarding Enquiry Referral Form to notify the Safeguarding and social Care Governance Team. Where appropriate, and in accordance with Individual Agency Guidance, the Responsible Person may need to consult with the Designated Organisational Lead within their organisation.

The Responsible Person will act in accordance with their own individual agency guidance. All concerns will need to be reported on a referral form to the Safeguarding and Social Care Governance team and the assessed threshold indicating the level of harm must be clear.

The Responsible Person should consult with more senior, knowledgeable colleagues or with a defined Designated Organisational Lead role, as identified in Individual Agency Guidance. Together they will consider the individual circumstances of the adult at risk and whether it would be appropriate to involve an independent advocate to support them through the process. Alternatively, in line with the Mental Capacity Act, an Independent mental capacity advocate might be more appropriate.

The Responsible Person may also be the person who attends and contributes to strategy meetings on behalf of a person or agency, or supports an adult at risk through the process or makes arrangements for such. This person will always need to be at an appropriate level to enable them to fully contribute, make decisions and take forward any actions, including where appropriate the need to investigate, report back and monitor. The appropriateness of this will be determined by individual agencies in line with any internal procedures and individual agency guidance, which should clearly identify roles and levels of responsibility.

The Responsible Person will, where appropriate, consult with the Designated Organisational Lead in the agency to ensure this is managed in line with Individual Agency Guidance. Where further specialist advice is required, advice can be sourced via the Safeguarding and Social Care Governance Team.

Responsible Persons can be Care Managers, Managers or Team Managers of services or agencies, supervisors, or others as identified through Individual Agency Guidance within the Safeguarding Adults Procedural Framework. The Responsible Person reports to the Designated Organisational Lead.

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Designated Organisational Lead

The Designated Organisational Lead is responsible for the management and oversight of individual complex cases and coordination where allegations are made or concerns raised about a person, whether an employee, volunteer or student, paid or unpaid. The Designated Organisational Lead should keep in regular contact with their counterparts in partner organisations. They should also have a role in highlighting the extent to which their own organisation prevents abuse and neglect taking place. They should also provide advice and guidance within their organisation, liaising with other agencies as necessary. They also monitor the progress of cases to ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process.

The Designated Organisational Lead is a representative in an agency who is a key contact and support for the Local Authority. This could be to assist in directing enquiries and actions to the most appropriate person and to take forward issues in their own agency where there has been a need for the Local Authority to escalate an issue to them.

The worst thing you can do is nothing.

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