OPG: What is safeguarding?

What is safeguarding?


Safeguarding and protecting vulnerable adults and children – a key responsibility of Councils

Safeguarding is a term the Office of the Public Guardian use to describe how they protect adults and children from abuse or neglect. It is an important shared priority of many public services, and a key responsibility of local authorities.

Safeguarding is about protecting certain people who may be in vulnerable circumstances. These people may be at risk of abuse or neglect due to the actions (or lack of action) of another person. In these cases, it is vital that public services work together to identify people at risk, and put steps in place to help prevent abuse or neglect.

Office of the Public Guardian Jargon related to Safeguarding:

  • Adults and children at risk who are covered by OPG’s safeguarding policy will be referred to in this policy as ‘clients’.
  • The term ‘adult at risk’ is used in OPG policy to replace ‘vulnerable adult’. This is because the term ‘vulnerable adult’ may wrongly imply that some of the fault for the abuse lies with the victim of abuse. The OPG use ‘adult at risk’ as an exact replacement for ‘vulnerable adult’ as that phrase is used throughout existing government guidance.
  • When the OPG refer to ‘staff’ throughout policy, this means OPG’s permanent, temporary and agency staff, Court of Protection visitors and contractors.

 The OPGs safeguarding duty.

The Public Guardian has a statutory duty to safeguard:

  • any person who has a deputy appointed by the Court of Protection.
  • The donor of any registered enduring power of attorney (EPA) or lasting power of attorney (LPA).
  • Anyone for whom the Court of Protection has authorised someone else to carry out a transaction on their behalf, under s16 (2) of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (single orders).

This includes some children and young people where the Court of Protection has appointed a deputy because the child or young person is likely to still lack capacity to make financial decisions when he or she turns 18.

The OPGs areas of responsibility.

Most of OPG’s clients are adults. Allegations of abuse of vulnerable children (or young people aged up to 21 in some circumstances) will usually be dealt with by local authority children’s services. Where allegations of abuse relate to a child or young person, OPG will raise the issue with the police and/or the local authority children’s services department.

The OPG will raise concerns and allegations about people who are not covered by their policy to the police, local authorities and/or children’s services.

The next page covers a little on the Mental Capacity Act, but you can skip on to the page considering what is abuse under the MCA. Or you can look at the OPGs policy on abuse and risk.

The previous article in the series was a brief note on what the OPGs Role is.