Vulnerable Adults Policy

Aim of Policy

Bow Arts delivers work with a range of community groups and settings and we aim to create environments in which vulnerable adults are safe. The aim of this policy is to outline processes through which members of the Bow Arts staff, volunteers, interns and freelance contractors can keep vulnerable adults safe.


The characteristics of adult abuse can take a number of forms and cause victims to suffer pain, fear and
distress reaching well beyond the time of the actual incident(s). Victims may be too afraid or embarrassed to raise any complaint. They may be reluctant to discuss their concerns with other people or unsure who to trust or approach with their worries.

There may be some situations where victims are unaware that they are being abused or have difficulty in
communicating this information to others.

1) Definition

The term ‘vulnerable person’ is defined as anyone aged 18 and over who:

  • is or may be in need of Community Care Services by reason of mental or other disability, age or
    illness; and
  • is or may be unable to take care of himself or herself and; or
  • is unable to protect him or herself against significant harm

2) What is abuse?

Abuse can take many forms, including:

a) Physical abuse – including assault hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions.

b) Sexual abuse – including rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting.

c) Psychological abuse – including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks.

d) Financial or material abuse – including theft, fraud, exploitation, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

e) Neglect and acts of omission – including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

f) Discriminatory abuse – including discrimination on grounds of race, gender and gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.

3) Responding appropriately to suspicions or disclosures of abuse

All members of staff, freelance contractors, trustees, volunteers and interns have a duty to report any
concerns relating to the welfare of vulnerable adults. These may include:

Disclosures from vulnerable adults

Observations or suspicions of inappropriate conduct towards vulnerable adults
Guidance on how to respond to a disclosure of abuse can be found in Appendix A.
All incidents must be recorded, preferably on the incident reporting sheet (Appendix B).
Any suspicions concerning adult abuse should be reported to the designated member of Bow Arts staff
responsible for vulnerable adults:

Sheena Etches, Executive Director – Enterprise & Operations 020 7980 7774 /
Bow Arts will report all disclosures or allegations to:
Tower Hamlets ‘Safeguarding Adults Hotline’ Tel: 020 7364 6085

Course of action:

  1. If there are any concerns that a vulnerable adult may be at risk of immediate harm, the police should be contacted by dialling 999.
  2. Record Incident (see Appendix B – Incident Reporting)
    Who? > Staff member, freelance contractor, volunteer or intern
  3. Report incident to Bow Arts Adult Protection Officer (Sheena Etches, Executive Director – Enterprise & Operations)
    Who? > Staff member, freelance contractor, volunteer or intern
  4. Contact the Tower Hamlets Safeguarding Adults Hotline – 020 7364 6085
    Who? > Bow Arts Adult Protection Officer
  5. No further action required OR advised to refer to: Social Services OR Welfare OfficerOR Health Professional
    Who? > Bow Arts Adult Protection Officer

4) Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks

Bow Arts processes volunteer, standard and enhanced DBS disclosure checks through a Registered Body, currently uCheck.

Bow Arts only offer work and volunteering/intern roles to individuals if they hold a valid DBS check completed within the past three years, or have a DBS application in process (see below). This can be completed through Bow Arts, or through another organisation. If completed through another organisation, the original certificate must be seen and recorded by Bow Arts. We encourage contractors to use the annual ‘auto-update’ service.

Freelance Contractors, staff and volunteers:
Bow Arts recognises valid DBS checks must include each of these elements:
1) The check must be an ‘Enhanced’ check, including a check of the relevant DBS Barred Lists
2) The check must be for ‘Child Workforce’ or ‘Child and Adult Workforce’

Bow Arts Vulnerable Adults Policy

  • Have an appropriate role description to the role that will be carried out
  • All staff and contractors are responsible for informing Bow Arts of any convictions prior to, or following completion of DBS applications.
  • An individual may work/volunteer in client settings if their DBS check is in process with Bow Arts. If the application has not been processed by the time the work is contracted, it will be noted in the client contract that the check is pending, and the application reference number will be included. In this situation the client retains the right to decline an individual.
  • If a disclosure is made, or if a ‘trace’ should come to light through a DBS check, we will provide a designated member of staff for the client with details of the disclosure. It will then be the responsibility of the client to make their own assessment of risk before allowing access to the individual. The client’s decision must be made in writing to Bow Arts.
  • If a disclosure or trace relates to a matter of vulnerable adult protection, Bow Arts retains the right to remove an artist from their database.
  • How disclosures are treated internally within Bow Arts. A note that an artist has a disclosure will be added to the artist file and all members of the Education and Learning team and the CEO will be informed. The Head of Education & Learning will write to the contractor/volunteer to clarify our procedure (as above) and how we will handle the information.

Where a client has any special requirements that differ to this policy it is the responsibility of the organisation to inform Bow Arts in a timely fashion so that we can endeavour to support any such requirements.

All data processed as part of the DBS checking will be scanned and kept securely on file, in line with Bow Arts Privacy Policy.

Further information on DBS is available at

5) Legislation and Further Information

This policy is informed by the Care Act 2014

Further information can be found at:

Bow Arts Vulnerable Adults Policy 4 Updated January 2019

To be reviewed January 2021

Appendix A

Responding to a Disclosure- Checklist


  • Listen carefully and take an allegation seriously
  • Stay calm
  • Re-assure the person
  • Explain what you will do next
  • Report to the nominated member of Bow Arts staff
  • In an emergency, protect the vulnerable adult
  • Record everything the person has told you or what you have observed – in detail and immediately (see RECORDING below)


  • “Go it alone”
  • Appear shocked or angry
  • Try to obtain more information than is necessary
  • Make comments or judgments
  • Contaminate the evidence
  • Promise to keep secrets (the information must be shared)
  • Give sweeping assurances
  • Confront the abuser


  • Brief and immediate
  • Identify fact and opinion
  • Record date, time, situation
  • Who else was present
  • Who said what/Observations
  • Use person’s own words
  • Be clear and specific
  • Action Taken (Even if No action)

Data Protection

  • Record adequate information
  • Be Accurate
  • Keep to a firsthand account
  • Hold information securely

Appendix B

Vulnerable Adults Incident Report Form

Name of person disclosing:
Project location / venue:
Contact details for person disclosing (when not held by community setting):
Briefly describe what happened (include times and dates):
Names and contacts of witnesses:
Name of person completing form:
Action taken:
A copy of this report MUST be given to the Bow Arts Adult Protection Officer:

Sheena Etches, Executive Director – Enterprise and Operations, Bow Arts, 183 Bow Road, London, E3 2SJ /

Updated January 2019
To be reviewed January 2021