1. Introduction

This guidance is for use by staff who manage or undertake a Statutory Safeguarding Adults Enquiry under section 42 of the Care Act 2014. It comes into effect once a decision has been reached by the local authority that the criteria for such an enquiry has been met. This guidance does not apply for safeguarding enquiries that occur in a in-patient setting; for this please refer to the Oversight Guidance.

Local authorities must make enquiries, or cause another agency to do so, whenever abuse or neglect are suspected in relation to an adult and the local authority thinks it necessary to enable it to decide what (if any) action is needed to help and protect the adult.

The scope of that enquiry, who leads it and its nature, and how long it takes, will depend on the particular circumstances.

The purpose of the enquiry is to decide whether or not the local authority or another organisation, or person, should do something to help and protect the adult.

Although the local authority is the lead agency for making enquiries, it may require others to undertake them. The specific circumstances will determine who is the right person to begin an enquiry. In many cases a professional who already knows the adult will be the best person. They may be a health worker such as a community nurse or the provider.

2. When should the Enquiry be Caused?

The local authority as the lead agency for making enquiries, may require others to undertake them. To determine who the right person is to begin or conduct the enquiry the following should be considered.

  • Who has the closest relationship with the individual? This might be the care provider, health professional.
  • Has a crime been committed? If a crime is suspected the police must lead the criminal investigation.
  • Who has the necessary skills and knowledge? Specific skills and knowledge may be required such as tissue viability, medicines management, speech and language etc.
  • Are there any employment responsibilities? Allegations about staff may be best undertaken by the employer.

3. When will it not be appropriate to Cause an Enquiry?

The local authority as the lead agency for making enquiries will not cause another person, agency or organisation to undertake and enquiry when:

  • there is a serious conflict on the interest on the part of the employer. An example of a conflict of interest where it is better for an external person to be appointed to investigate may be the case of a family-run business where institutional abuse is alleged, or where the manager or owner of the service is implicated;
  • there are or have been concerns about non-effective past enquiries;
  • it is not clear they have the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake what is required;
  • the situation relates to organisational abuse or it requires a Large Scale Enquiry;
  • where abuse or neglect is suspected within a family or informal relationship it is likely that a social worker will be the most appropriate lead.

4. Roles and Responsibilities

4.1 Local authority causing an enquiry to be carried out

Where the local authority identifies that another agency is best placed to undertake that enquiry, or an element of it, they will:

  1. Ensure that the organisation is fully involved in the planning of the enquiry and will chair the strategy meeting.
  2. Ensure that all relevant parties understand who will conduct the enquiry on the local authority’s behalf and why.
  3. Inform the organisation of this responsibility, initially verbally, and then formally using the template letter within this guidance (Appendix 1), which will set out the key lines of enquiry. This would usually include the outcomes the adults have identified they want to make a difference.
  4. Explain to the organisation why they are best placed to undertake the enquiry.
  5. Be satisfied that the organisation being caused to undertake the enquiry is competent to do so and that there is no conflict of interest in this organisation or the person they appoint to lead the enquiry fulfilling this role (see Section 3).
  6. Agree a reasonable timescale for receiving the enquiry report (Appendix 2).
  7. Ensure the organisation knows how the Lead Officer (normally a social worker) in the local authority for this Safeguarding can be contacted. This should be included in the letter.
  8. Ensure the organisation knows of the appointment and contact details of any independent advocate or other person acting on the adult’s behalf where they have substantial difficulty in taking part in the enquiry OR how an independent advocate can be arranged if the organisation has concerns about the adult at risk ability to take part in the enquiry.
  9. Make any amendments to the plan of action necessary as the enquiry progresses or the adult’s desired outcomes change or develop.
  10. Ensure that the adult is aware of and satisfied with the enquiry and ascertain if their view on whether their outcome has been met.
  11. Confirm with the organisation who carried out the enquiry when the safeguarding has been closed and to request regular updates.

4.2 Organisation identified to undertake an enquiry

The manager or safeguarding lead for the organisation that is caused to undertake a Section 42 Enquiry will:

  • appoint an appropriate person to undertake the enquiry and provide the enquiry report, ensure they are competent to do so, that they receive the support necessary to satisfactorily complete it, and that there is no conflict of interest in their undertaking this role;
  • satisfy themselves that the enquiry plan of action is clearly understood and within the remit of the organisation to undertake;
  • make the Lead Officer in the local authority aware of any circumstances where the organisation is not the appropriate body to undertake the enquiry.
  • agree a reasonable timescale for submitting the report.

Conduct the enquiry in line with the principles of Making Safeguarding Personal (see Making Safeguarding Personal chapter), i.e. ensure:

  • the enquiry reflects the outcomes that the adult wishes to achieve;
  • if the adult’s outcomes have not been identified – the first action must be to ascertain the outcomes that the adult wishes to achieve. This includes taking into account the adult’s capacity and best interests;
  • the adult (or their representative or independent advocate) is included throughout the process;
  • if the adult does not have a representative or independent advocate but is having substantial difficulty in taking part in the enquiry the Enquiry Officer must liaise with the Lead Officer in the local authority so an advocate can be instructed;
  • that if in the progress of the enquiry, the adult alters their view of their desired outcomes, this is reflected in the enquiry and that the Lead Officer in the local authority is informed of this;
  • it is agreed with the lead agency how the conclusion of the enquiry is shared and discussed with the adult (or their representative or independent advocate);
  • the adult’s outcomes are reviewed to ascertain whether they feel they have been met.

Appendix 1: Template Letter

Click here to access the Template letter

Appendix 2: Template Enquiry Report

Click here to access the Template for Enquiry Report