An Alerter is the person who raises a concern about abuse or neglect or uncovers abuse or neglect. Anyone can be an Alerter. Abuse may be identified in a wide range of contexts and therefore concerns can be expressed by a variety of different people. For example:
- Paid staff and volunteers within the Local Authority;
- Paid staff and volunteers within health services/agencies/Hospital settings;
- Paid staff/volunteers within partnership agencies;
- Volunteers and paid staff within voluntary services/agencies;
- Care staff (paid and volunteers), nursing staff, agency staff and managers within independent care homes and domiciliary care agencies;
- Paid staff and volunteers within educational services;
- Students on placement within services where adults may be vulnerable and at risk of abuse or neglect;
- Probation staff;
- Staff from housing services including sheltered housing schemes and supported living schemes;
- Carers, friends, family/relatives, neighbours, members of the public/community;
- Service Users, patients or other adults at risk;
- Members of the public.
The above is not an exhaustive list.
An Alerter may find out about abuse or neglect in a number of ways. They could:
- Be told about abuse by the adult at risk;
- Be told by someone else who knows or works with the adult at risk;
- They might observe signs and symptoms that would indicate the person is being abused or neglected;
- They may witness the abuse themselves;
- They may hear something that concerns them;
- They may be told by another worker that something is wrong.
The above is not an exhaustive list.
It may be that there are repeated instances or patterns of abuse and that we need to look beyond single instances as patterns can indicate more serious problems or care concerns.
An Alerter may not be reporting that abuse or neglect has occurred (unless personally witnessed). They are passing over information that someone has told them or providing information on what they suspect to be abuse or neglect. As such, an Alerter does not have to have evidence or provide any 'proof'. An Alerter acting in good faith should not be criticised or disciplined in any way should the outcome be that there is no cause for concern. They will be deemed to have acted in their Duty of Care or moral responsibility.
Where an Alerter is a member of staff within an agency, a Responsible Person/Safeguarding Lead in that agency should ensure the original Alerter is notified as to whether the concern they raised resulted in a Safeguarding Adults Concern to the Local Authority and whether that concern determined that an enquiry should be made, or whether there was any other course of action.
Where an Alerter is concerned that the person they have alerted to have not taken action or that a person has not been safeguarded, they should share those concerns with the Local Authority.
An Alerter plays an important role in the safeguarding process. Alerters may be the person involved in supporting the Adult at Risk throughout all stages or be asked to undertake specific tasks particularly if they are a member of staff or volunteer in a partner agency.
Any Alerter providing support who is not a member of staff in a partner or voluntary agency can seek advice from the Safeguarding Adults Team.
Alerters should take note of the following at all stages:
- Be continually aware of signs and symptoms (see Definitions, Categories and Indicators of Abuse Procedure);
- Abuse and neglect does occur, so take the suspicion, allegation or disclosure seriously;
- Remain calm;
- The Duty of Care or moral responsibility dictates the need to act. Do not try to 'ignore' or 'forget' any concerns. If someone else comes forward with the same concerns and it becomes clear that you didn't, disciplinary action could result;
- Do not delay. If in any doubt, don't wait, bring the concerns forward and act, even on instinct, that something is 'wrong' or 'doesn't seem right';
- Consider the immediate risk or danger to the alleged perpetrator or others;
- Consider the need for medical treatment;
- Consider the need to inform the Police;
- Take the appropriate steps to preserve any evidence;
- Create opportunities for the safe sharing of information. If someone is wanting to talk about something, try to provide a private space for the disclosure to take place;
- Do not interrogate or cross-examine the alleged victim;
- Do not talk in the presence of an alleged or suspected perpetrator. Do not contact the perpetrator;
- Do not put yourself at risk.