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Adult support and protection (ASP)

North Ayrshire's Health and Social Care Partnership Multi-Agency Adult Support and Protection Policy.

Adult support and protection referrals


All the agencies named in the Act have legal responsibilities in relation to Adult Support and Protection.

Any employee of the Health Board, the council, or Police Scotland has a duty to refer adults they know, or believe, to be at risk of harm, to the local council. This should be done within 24 hours of the concern being raised.

Adult Protection is everyone's business, anyone can submit a referral. If you come across an adult, you believe may be at risk of harm, you should make an ASP referral. The form will guide you to answer questions on the three point test. If the adult does not meet the three point test but concerned they are vulnerable and in need of support, you can submit an Adult concern referral instead.

Report any concerns by phone to:

  • 01294 310300 during working hours 
  • 0800 328 7758 out of hours

If the person is in immediate danger, in an emergency call Police Scotland on 999. For non-emergency situations call 101.

You do not need to leave your name, but it would help for more information.

Complete our Adult Protection Referral form

Once you have made a referral, you should get an acknowledgement that it has been received, Please check that your receive this.

ASP referral process

We take all concerns seriously. All referrals are processed to ensure they receive an ASP inquiry. This is to establish the circumstances and inform decisions about the best way forward.

Contact at the end of the inquiry stage provides feedback about what was decided.

If you would like to:

  • discuss making a referral
  • discuss your referral after you have submitted
  • discuss the outcome of the inquiry

then contact Social Work.

Information sharing

Whilst adults with capacity have the right to consent, or otherwise, there may be a lawful basis to share information, under the ASP Act, without consent, and therefore an adult's consent is not required for a referral to be made. Wherever possible the adult should be informed of the sharing of information and the reasons why.

Existing legislation, including the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 does not prevent sharing and/or exchanging relevant information where there is a concern about the protection of adults at risk. The information sharing must be necessary (proportionate and targeted) for the purpose of carrying out the task. Detailed guidance around the required aspects of information sharing is available in the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 Code of Practice, including Data Protection information and a To Share or Not to Share Checklist.

Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 and the Code of Practice 2022

The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 is underpinned by the 2022 Revised ASP Code of Practice.

This provides information about the three-point test, the duty to refer under ASP and the duty to co-operate with enquiries. The Act seeks to protect adults who are:

  • at risk of harm
  • more vulnerable to harm
  • unable to safeguard themselves


'Harm' means all harm (including physical, sexual, financial, emotional). This includes neglect, self-harm and self-neglect. No type of harm is excluded. For more information please see the Act Against Harm website and the 2022 Revised ASP Code of Practice.

Three-point test

The Act sets out the three-point test which defines 'adults at risk' as adults who are aged 16 and over and who:

  • are unable to safeguard their own wellbeing, property, rights, or other interests
  • are at risk of harm, and
  • due to disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable

The 'Four Referral Rs'


Be aware of adult protection issues and how an adult at risk of harm may present. Consider trauma, undue pressure, and the adult's ability to safeguard themself.


Where you have an internal adviser for adult protection, report the matter to them. Discuss with appropriate colleagues the need to make a referral but ensure this does not adversely delay referring.


Refer the individual and their circumstances through your local adult protection referral process, as above. Where the matter is urgent contact the relevant emergency services on 999 without delay.


Use the individual’s record to note the:

  • issues that arose
  • circumstances
  • decisions made
  • actions you took
  • rationale for your actions

Duty to inquire

Where it appears that an adult is at risk of harm, the Act places a duty on the local council to find out:

  • if the adult is at risk of harm as defined by the legislation
  • whether they need to take action to protect the adult’s wellbeing, property or financial affairs

The council also considers which agencies need to be involved to inform the risk assessment and to work together to provide any necessary support and protection.

Health and Social Care (Social Services) have the lead statutory responsibility in relation to:

  • completing an inquiry with or without investigatory powers where they know or believe an adult is at risk of harm
  • convening ASP Case Conferences (to consider risks to which the adult is exposed and how best they can be protected or enabled to make informed decisions concerning potential risks)
  • applying for Protection Orders under the Act (assessment orders, removal orders or banning orders)


There are duties in relation to cooperation (Part 1: Section 5) and providing information (Part 1: Section 10) contained within the act. In summary, these sections state that:

  • the Mental Welfare Commission
  • health boards
  • Police
  • councils
  • Healthcare Improvement Scotland
  • the Care Inspectorate
  • the Public Guardian​​​​​​​

have unequivocal responsibilities to cooperate with the council undertaking ASP inquiries:

  • to notify the council of an adult who may be at risk of harm, and
  • to cooperate with each other to ensure the appropriate support and protection to an adult at risk of harm

Section 10 of the Act provides that a council officer may need any person holding health, financial or other records relating to an adult known or believed to be at risk, to give the records, or copies of them, to the officer.

North Ayrshire Adult Protection Committee

The North Ayrshire Adult Protection Committee brings together practitioners from social care, voluntary organisations, the Police and the NHS. The committee provides specialist training on adult protection to staff in its partner agencies.

Health and Social Care Standards

The Health and Social Care Standards seek to provide better outcomes for everyone, to ensure that individuals are treated with respect and dignity, and that the basic human rights, to which we are all entitled to, are upheld.

The standards set out what we should expect when using health and social care or social work services in Scotland.

The standards are underpinned by five principles:

  • dignity and respect
  • compassion
  • inclusion
  • responsive care
  • support and wellbeing

Missing persons

A missing person is defined in the National Missing Person’s Framework as anyone whose whereabouts are unknown and where circumstances are out of character; or the context suggests the person may be subject to crime; or the person is at risk of harm to themselves or another.

North Ayrshire Council and the North Ayrshire Adult Protection Committee are committed to the four objectives as outlined in the framework to:

  • introduce preventative measures to reduce the number of missing person episodes
  • respond consistently and appropriately to missing person episodes
  • provide the best possible support to both missing people and their families
  • protect vulnerable missing people and reduce the risk of harm

If you suspect an adult is missing and there is no immediate danger, please contact Police Scotland on 101. If you fear they are in immediate danger, please contact Police Scotland on their emergency number 999.

The Herbert Protocol

The Herbert Protocol initiative is named after George Herbert, a veteran of the Normandy landings, who had dementia, and sadly died while he was 'missing' on his way to his childhood home. It is an early intervention and risk reduction scheme to help find vulnerable people who are at risk of going missing.

Since 2017 the Herbert Protocol has been used many times to help police and other agencies quickly and safely locate missing people who have dementia.

Families of a person with the condition are asked to download the Herbert Protocol form and provide information such as places of importance to them, often visited places, health issues and places they have been found in the past if reported missing. Ownership and responsibility for updating the form remains with the family. It is good practice to complete this form as soon as possible, following a diagnosis, so it is ready to share with the Police, should they missing. It is advised this form is reviewed and updated regularly.

More information on the Herbert Protocol and the Herbert Protocol form can be found on Police Scotland's Herbert Protocol page.

Joint Thematic Inspection of ASP Report

North Ayrshire was one of six participating Authorities in the Joint Thematic Inspection of ASP.

View the Care Inspectorate report on the inspection.

Training opportunities

There is information available on ASP training. It is open to individuals and partner organisations:

For ASP training enquiries, email the Adult Support and Protection Training Team.