The governance of adult safeguarding: findings from research

Suzy Braye (Professor of Social Work, School of Education and Social Work, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK)
David Orr (Lecturer in Social Work, School of Education and Social Work, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK)
Michael Preston‐Shoot (Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Publication date: 6 April 2012



The purpose of this article is to report the findings from research into the governance of adult safeguarding policy and practice in England, with particular focus on interagency partnership arrangements expressed through Safeguarding Adults Boards.


The study comprised a systematic search and thematic analysis of English‐language literature on adult safeguarding governance, a survey of Safeguarding Adults Board documentation, and key informant interviews and workshops with professionals involved in adult protection.


The effectiveness of adult safeguarding governance arrangements has not been subject to prior formal evaluation and thus the literature provided little research‐led evidence of good practice. The survey and workshops, however, revealed a rich and complex pattern of arrangements spanning a number of dimensions – the goals and purpose of interagency working, the structures of boards, their membership, chairing and rules of engagement, their functions, and their accountabilities.

Research limitations/implications

The research focus here is England, and thus does not incorporate learning from other jurisdictions. Whilst the research scrutinises the extent to which Boards practise empowerment, service users and carers are not directly involved in the fieldwork aspects of this study. In view of the absence of outcomes evidence identified, there remains a need to investigate the impacts of different forms of governance.

Practical implications

Drawing on this research and on governance frameworks in the context of related interagency fields, the article identifies standards to benchmark the approach to governance taken by Safeguarding Adult Boards.


The benchmarking framework will enable Safeguarding Adults Boards to audit, evaluate, and further develop a range of robust governance arrangements.



Braye, S., Orr, D. and Preston‐Shoot, M. (2012), "The governance of adult safeguarding: findings from research", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 55-72.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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