Referrals to the police of vulnerable adult abuse

Jacqueline Farquharson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the outcome of referrals made to one police force in England by three local authorities between March 2010 and April 2011, in order to identify and understand the barriers to prosecuting suspects of abuse or harm against vulnerable adults, and improve inter-agency co-operation.

Methodology – All referrals to this police force are given a crime number when they are recorded on the Criminal Justice System database together with a vulnerable adult flag and a status code which indicates the outcome following a police investigation. A search of the database using the vulnerable adult flag identifies the total number of referrals and outcomes for the selected period. This can then be imported into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to allow further analysis to take place.

Findings – Over 87% of all referrals of alleged abuse to vulnerable adults made to this police force did not establish that a crime had been committed. Of those that did only 1% resulted in either a caution or court proceedings.

Research limitations – This is a small sample from one, predominantly rural, police force.

Originality/value – The benefit of this research is that it contributes to a greater knowledge of the outcomes of adult safeguarding referrals made, primarily, by local authorities to the police and how police disclosures, on Disclosure and Barring Service checks, are being used as a means of providing employers of regulated activities with information on individuals who have been suspected of abusing vulnerable adults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Adult Protection
Issue number2
Early online date1 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • vulnerable adults
  • safeguarding
  • abuse
  • referrals
  • police
  • suspects


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