The guidance and best practice outlined in this app provide information to support the process of professional judgement. It is not a substitute for professional judgement.

Professional judgement requires rigorous and thoughtful analysis of all the information available to you – including evidence and guidance and insight into the individual and their circumstances. Independent judgements must be made even when working in person centred and evidence-based ways and in close partnership with others, and can often be required in challenging circumstances.

The principles and values underlying management of adult support and protection provide a framework for applying professional judgement in decision-making.



The principles must be taken into account at all stages of any intervention and emphasise the importance of striking a balance between an adult's right to freedom of choice and the risk of harm to that person. Any intervention must be reasonable, necessary, proportionate and legal.

A public body or office holder must be satisfied that any intervention will provide:

  • Benefit to the adult which could not reasonably be provided without intervening in the adults affairs and
  • Is, of the range of options likely to fulfil the object of the intervention, the least restrictive to the adult’s freedom.


In addition, in considering a decision or course of action, the public bodies or office holders must also have regard to the following:

  • The adult’s ascertainable wishes and feelings (past and present).
  • Any views of the adult’s nearest relative, primary carer, guardian or attorney and any other person who has an interest in the adults wellbeing or property.
  • The importance of the adult participating as fully as possible in the performance of the function and providing the adult with such information and support as is necessary to enable the adult to participate.
  • The importance of the adult not being, without justification, treated less favourably than the way in which a person who is not an adult at risk of harm would be treated in a comparable situation.
  • The adult’s abilities, background and characteristics.



In general terms, the following values underpin any intervention in the affairs of adults deemed to be at risk and in need of protection under this multi-agency guidance:

  • Every adult has a right to be protected from all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
  • The welfare and safety of the adult takes primacy in relation to any inquiry or investigation.
  • Every effort should be made to enable the individual to express their wishes and make their own decisions to the best of their ability recognising that such self-determination may involve risk.
  • Where it is necessary to override the wishes of the adult or make decisions on his/her behalf for their own safety (or the safety of others) this should be proportionate and least restrictive.


Partnership agencies subscribing to this guidance for the protection of adults at risk will also adhere to: 

  • Actively working together within the value base of dignity, privacy, choice, safety, realising potential, equality and diversity.
  • Actively promoting individual choice and the wellbeing of adults at risk through service provision.
  • Actively work together within an interagency framework to provide the best outcomes for adults at risk.
  • Acting in a way which supports the rights of the individual to lead an independent life based on personal choice.
  • Recognising people who are unable to make their own decisions and/or to protect themselves and their assets.
  • Interventions should be legal, necessary and proportionate.
  • Decisions should be defensible, recorded and have a clear rationale.