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Updated July 2011

This definition was updated in July 2011 to include applicability to adults.

In relation to children:

Neglect is a form of Significant Harm which involves the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child's health or development.

Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food and clothing, shelter including exclusion from home or abandonment, failing to protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger, failure to ensure adequate supervision including the use of inadequate care-takers, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child's basic emotional needs.

In relation to adults:

The repeated deprivation of assistance that the person needs for important activities of daily living, including a failure to intervene in behaviour which is dangerous to them or to others, or poor manual handling techniques.

Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, wilful neglect and ill-treatment of a person lacking Capacity becomes a criminal offence.

Self-neglect on the part of an adult will not usually lead to the initiation of Adult Protection Procedures unless the situation involves a significant act of commission or omission by someone else with established responsibility for an adult's care. Other assessment and review procedures, including risk assessment procedures, may prove a more appropriate intervention in situations of self-neglect.