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This Factsheet is about complaints about Adult Protection services, sometimes referred to as the Protection of Vulnerable Adults from Abuse (“POVA”) or adult safeguarding. It should be read together with our general information booklet about our service.

Adult safeguarding describes the function of protecting adults from abuse or neglect. It is a shared priority of many public services including Councils, the Police and Health Boards.
This fact sheet is concerned with complaints about the part played by the Council’s Social Services which has a key responsibility in this area.

Complaints about the care of a vulnerable adult should first be brought to the attention of the Council and considered under the POVA procedure and the statutory Social Services complaint procedure. The Ombudsman will normally expect these procedures to have been used before making a complaint to him. However, if there are good reasons why this is not possible he may consider accepting a complaint before then.



What the Ombudsman can do

He can:

  • Look at a complaint that a vulnerable adult has suffered injustice as a result of failure in service or a failure in administration by a Social Services authority in Wales;
  • Look at a complaint about how Social Services has handled the POVA procedure and the statutory Social Services complaint procedure,;
  • Look at a complaint that Social Services has failed to act on the recommendations of the independent investigating officer at Stage 2 of the statutory complaint procedure.



What the Ombudsman cannot do

He cannot:

  • Directly investigate complaints about abuse. That is the responsibility of the organisations involved in Adult Protection;look at any issues of suspension, discipline or any personnel issues concerning members of Social Services staff.


Issues to bear in mind

The Ombudsman can look into complaints about the actions of Social Services in respect of Adult Protection. He can also look into complaints about the Health Service’s actions in such cases. The Ombudsman cannot, however, consider any complaints about the Police.  If you wish to complain about the part played by the Police in any Adult Protection matters, you must complain to the relevant Police Commissioner.

Health Boards can also be responsible for coordinating an adult protection investigation in circumstances where alleged abuse has taken place within an NHS care setting or where an NHS employee is alleged to have abused vulnerable adult.

The Ombudsman can also Protection of Vulnerable Adults Fact sheet Protection of Vulnerable Adults Fact sheet Version 2.0 / March 2015 investigate complaints about a Health Board and its management of POVA concerns. The police conduct investigations into any alleged criminal offences. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) can check whether someone is included in the two DBS ‘barred lists’ (previously called ISA barred lists) of individuals who are unsuitable for working with children and adults. People on the barred lists can’t do certain types of work. It covers care workers employed in registered care homes, care workers employed by registered providers of personal care in people’s own homes and adult placement carers.

The Ombudsman may need to share information with other bodies where he is of the view that there may be a threat to the health or safety of one or more persons and believes that the information should be disclosed in the public interest.



Further Information

Further information is available on the Welsh Government’s website at:

You may want to consider contacting the following organisations for advice:

Age Cymru can be contacted on 08000 223 444 or via their website at

Mind Cymru provides assistance for people with mental health problems. You can contact them by phone on 0300 123 3393 or via the internet at

MENCAP Cymru offers advice, information and support on any issue to do with learning disabilities. You can contact them by phone on 0808 808 1111 or via the internet at

The Ombudsman is independent and impartial; he cannot order public bodies to do what he recommends – but, in practice, they almost always do. Examples of cases that the Ombudsman has looked at can be found on our website. Please


Contact us

If you are unsure whether the Ombudsman would be able to look into your complaint, please contact us.