Mencap responds to care home abuse trial verdicts

By agency reporter
June 8, 2017

Yesterday, (7 June 2017) thirteen people were convicted of the ‘organised and systemic abuse’ of residents with a learning disability at the Veilstone care home in Bideford, and Gatooma, in Holsworthy, in 2010 and 2011. The homes were run by Atlas Care Homes, which has now ceased operating.

Throughout the investigation and trials, Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation supported families of victims involved, and worked closely with Devon and Cornwall Police. As the trials ended and reporting restricions were lifted, Jan Tregelles, Chief Executive of Mencap and Vivien Cooper, Chief Executive of The Challenging Behaviour Foundation made the following joint statement,

"Juries have listened to horrific accounts of people with a learning disability being abused by those who were being paid to support them. The evidence that has emerged has been chilling. The survivors and their family members have been brave and dignified throughout the five year build up to these trials and 11 months of legal proceedings.

"Atlas Project Team claimed to provide specialist care for people with a learning disability, at a cost of up to £4,000 per week per person. Staff were paid to care for people with a learning disability but instead of doing so imprisoned them repeatedly for long periods, often in cold rooms with no sanitation. Despite several warning signs, it took far too long for the abusive practices at the care homes to be exposed. Poor commissioning by a number of local authorities and weak inspection allowed an abusive culture to develop and sustain itself with devastating consequences for individuals and their families. 

"People with a learning disability abused in Atlas' services, and their families, have waited more than five years for justice. Devon and Cornwall Police must be commended for their work to ensure this case came to court.

"These trials have brought into sharp focus the unacceptable attitudes and lack of respect for people with a learning disability that exists in society. Across the country thousands of people with a learning disability, autism and behaviour that challenges are still subject to unacceptable practices, including the use of dangerous restraint techniques, the administration of anti-psychotic medication when they don’t have a mental illness and the use of solitary confinement.  This environment, which enables commissioners to spend thousands of pounds per week of public money on the wrong type of services with no accountability, must change."

* Mencap https://www.mencap.org.uk/

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