Last updated: 2 November 2023

Next review: 2 November 2024

A section 42 enquiry relates to the duty of the Local Authority to make enquiries, or have others do so, if an adult may be at risk of abuse or neglect. This happens whether or not the authority is providing any care and support services to that adult. It aims to decide what, if any, action is needed to help and protect the adult. 

The scale of the enquiry, who leads it, the format it takes and how long, will depend on the particular circumstances.

It will usually start with asking the adult about their view and wishes, which will often determine what next steps to take.

All those involved in an enquiry must focus on improving the adult's well-being and work together toward that shared aim. At this stage, the local authority also has a duty to consider whether the adult requires an independent advocate to represent and support the adult in the enquiry.

The objectives of an enquiry into abuse or neglect are to:

  • establish facts
  • be certain of the adult's views and wishes
  • assess the needs of the adult for protection or support and redress, and how they might be met
  • protect the person from abuse and neglect, in line with the wishes of the adult
  • make decisions about what action should be taken with the person or organisation responsible for the abuse or neglect
  • enable the adult to achieve resolution and recovery

An enquiry could range from a conversation with the adult, or their representative or advocate, prior to initiating a formal enquiry under section 42, right through to a much more formal multi-agency plan or course of action.

What happens as a result of the enquiry should reflect the adult's wishes where possible, as stated by them or by their representative or advocate.

If the adult lacks the capacity to engage with the process, any decision made must be in their best interests and be the correct response to the concern.