When is an adult at risk?

The main aim of the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 is to keep adult's safe and protect them from harm. 

The Act defines an adult at risk as people aged 16 years or over who:

  • are unable to safeguard their own well-being, property, rights or other interests; and
  • are at risk of harm; and
  • because they are affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more  vulnerable to being harmed than adults who are not so affected.

This is commonly known as the 3 point criteria. For an adult to be at risk in terms of the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007, the adult must meet all three points above.

Some adults may be at risk of harm because of:

  • mental ill health,
  • old age,
  • frailty or physical weakness,
  • physical or learning disability,
  • visual or hearing impairment.
  • engaging in self harming behaviours


Sometimes, we may think that when things happen outside our own family situations, then this is none of our business. However, we all have a responsibility to keep each other safe. This in turn, can help to keep our wider communities stay safe. You may have witnessed someone treating another adult badly, such as hitting them or shouting at them. Or you may be worried that someone who is managing another adult's money, is not using it to benefit the adult.

If you think someone is being harmed, whether this is being caused by the actions of someone else, or whether an adult is perhaps not looking after themselves properly, it is important to tell someone. Please get in touch with the Social Work Department who will listen to you and take you seriously.

Remember, the adult at risk may be relying on you to help them and you do not need their permission or consent to make that call.