Organisational Abuse

If you're a victim of organisational abuse, or know someone who is, and there's an emergency that's ongoing or life is in danger, call 999 now.

If you have a hearing or speech impairment, use the Essex Police textphone service 18000 or text 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.

Other ways to report:

  • online
  • by calling 101 (If you have a hearing or speech impairment, use our textphone service on 18001 101)
  • in the safety of your local police station (if you require a translator, Police can provide someone initially by phone and later in person) 

Adult Social Care

If you are being abused in relation to your care and support needs, contact Adult Social Care.

Telephone: 0345 603 7630
Textphone: 0345 758 5592

Monday to Thursday, 8:45am to 5pm
Friday, 8:45am to 4:30pm

Out of hours telephone: 0345 606 1212



If you need someone to speak to, Samaritans are available 24/7 to listen and help you. 

Call 116 123 or visit 

What is organisational abuse?

The term “institutional abuse” refers to neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting. 

In the Care Act defines institutional abuse (or “organisational abuse”) as one of the 10 types of harm.

It includes neglect and poor care practice within a specific care setting. This could be a hospital or a care home, but also the care you receive in your own home.

Examples of Organisational Abuse

Organisational abuse doesn’t have to involve physical violence. It can be something as small as insisting that a person in care must drink their tea at the same time every day.

This is the sort of thing that many of us take for granted. But when the right to choose is taken away, it can count as abuse.

The abuse can either be a one-off incident or an ongoing culture of ill-treatment. The abuse can take many forms, including neglect, and poor professional practices as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices in an organisation.

Here are some forms the abuse might take:

  • Inappropriate use of power or control.
  • Inappropriate confinement, restraint, or restriction.
  • Lack of choice – in food, in decoration, in lighting and heating, and in other environmental aspects.
  • Lack of personal clothing or possessions.
  • No flexibility of schedule, particularly with bed times.
  • Financial abuse.
  • Physical or verbal abuse.

Remember that this list is by no means exhaustive. So it’s important to be aware of the signs of institutional abuse.

Signs of Organisational Abuse

These are the sort of things that may indicate that organisational abuse is happening:

  • An unsafe, unhygienic or overcrowded environment.
  • A strict or inflexible routine.
  • Lack of privacy, dignity, and respect for people as individuals.
  • Withdrawing people from community or family contacts.
  • No choice offered with food, drink, dress or activities.
  • No respect or provisions for religion, belief, or cultural backgrounds.
  • Treating adults like children, including arbitrary decision-making.

Also be on the lookout for more telling signs of abuse, including cuts, bruises, and restraint. Another big warning sign is an organisation that discourages visits, or the involvement of friends and relatives.

Why Does Organisational Abuse Happen?

Like all types of abuse, there is no single cause of organisational abuse. It generally happens in institutions where staff are:

  • Poorly trained.
  • Poorly supervised.
  • Unsupported by management, or otherwise unaccountable.
  • Bad at communicating.

Organisational abuse can involve more than one abuser. Though a culture that doesn’t recognise or respond to the actions of a lone abuser can be just as harmful to the adult at risk.