Six Principles of Safeguarding

Six Principles of Safeguarding

The six principles of safeguarding in care, which guide the protection of vulnerable individuals, especially children and adults at risk, are as follows:

  1. Empowerment
  2. Prevention
  3. Proportionality
  4. Protection
  5. Partnership
  6. Accountability

These principles are designed to ensure that safeguarding practices are robust, person-centred, and effective in preventing harm and abuse. The six principles of safeguarding are outlined in the Care Act 2014.


Empowerment in safeguarding means enabling individuals to make their own decisions and exercise control over their lives. This first of the six principles of safeguarding emphasises ensuring that individuals have all the necessary information to make informed choices about their care and support. It involves valuing and respecting the decisions that individuals make, even if they choose to take certain risks. Encouraging and assisting individuals to maintain as much independence as possible is also crucial. Additionally, it involves helping individuals build self-confidence and self-esteem so they feel empowered to speak up about their needs and concerns. Providing access to advocacy services, if needed, ensures that their voices are heard and their rights are upheld. Empowerment aims to create an environment where individuals feel valued and in control of their own lives, which is fundamental to effective safeguarding in care.


Prevention in safeguarding focuses on taking action before harm occurs. This principle emphasises the importance of proactive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals, especially those who are vulnerable. It involves identifying and addressing potential risks early on to prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Prevention requires educating individuals and communities about safeguarding practices and recognising signs of potential harm. By fostering a culture of awareness and vigilance, prevention aims to reduce the likelihood of harm and promote a safer environment for everyone. Effective prevention strategies are essential to minimising risks and ensuring that protective measures are in place to keep individuals safe.


Proportionality in safeguarding involves responding to risks in a manner that is balanced and appropriate to the severity of the situation. This principle emphasises the importance of taking the least intrusive action necessary to address the risk and protect the individual. It ensures that interventions are not overly restrictive or heavy-handed, but rather tailored to the specific circumstances and level of threat. Proportionality seeks to respect the individual’s rights and autonomy while providing adequate protection. By focusing on proportionate responses, safeguarding efforts aim to effectively manage risks without unnecessary interference in the individual’s life.


Protection in safeguarding focuses on providing support and representation to individuals who are at the greatest risk of harm. This principle emphasises the need to identify vulnerable individuals and take decisive action to ensure their safety and well-being. Protection involves creating an environment where those at risk feel safe and secure, and where their needs are prioritised. It requires a coordinated response from various services and agencies to offer the necessary assistance and intervention. The goal of protection is to shield individuals from abuse, neglect, and exploitation, ensuring they receive the care and support they need to live safely and with dignity.


Partnership in safeguarding involves working collaboratively with various services, agencies, and the community to protect vulnerable individuals. This principle emphasises the importance of local solutions and collective responsibility in preventing and responding to abuse and neglect. By fostering strong relationships and open communication among organisations, communities can effectively detect, report, and address safeguarding concerns. Partnership ensures that resources and expertise are shared, leading to a more comprehensive and effective approach to safeguarding. It recognises that everyone has a role to play in creating a safe environment and that coordinated efforts are essential for the well-being of individuals at risk.


Accountability in safeguarding emphasises the need for transparency and responsibility in protecting vulnerable individuals. The last of the six principles of safeguarding ensures that organisations and individuals involved in safeguarding are answerable for their actions and decisions. It requires clear policies, procedures, and reporting mechanisms to track and evaluate safeguarding efforts. Accountability promotes trust by making sure that safeguarding practices are open to scrutiny and that any failures or issues are addressed promptly and effectively. By upholding accountability, organisations demonstrate their commitment to maintaining high standards of care and protection for those at risk, ensuring that safeguarding is carried out ethically and efficiently.