We have been talking about the recent news on the actions taken by the police and the regulator (CQC) after the abuse people experienced at Mendip House.
Learning Disability England (LDE) believes that organisations that are responsible for the care and support of people with learning disabilities must act in ways that help keep people safe from all kinds of abuse. If they fail to do that those organisations should be accountable and face significant punishment or sanction.
If organisations are not held responsible when they fail it sends out the wrong messages about the value of people with learning disabilities in society.
As well as organisations being responsible for their part the people who commit abuse should be prosecuted if there are criminal acts, so they take personal responsibility too.
We encourage those organisations responsible for poor care and support to use their failure as a learning experience and do better in the future – but this should be alongside public actions that demonstrate how society does not accept the actions of the organisations or any people breaking the law.
LDE is concerned that the recent decision to only issue a £4,000 fine for the financial abuse that took place at Mendip House falls well short of what should have happened to show how serious this was.
What we know about what happened at Mendip House
In 2016 Learning Disability England learnt about the abuse that had been happening at Mendip House in Somerset. We heard about it from the CQC report on the service. We wrote to the National Autistic Society telling them about our concerns and asking questions about what they had done.
National Autistic Society replied saying they take responsibility for having ‘failed badly’ and would be open about what they were doing to find out what went wrong and how they needed to change how they work.
You can see the letters here
In February 2018 National Autistic Society (NAS) shared an update on what they had done to stop abuse like this happening or to act much quicker when any thing starts going wrong. This was after the Safeguarding Adults Board report came out giving more detail of the dreadful abuse some people living at Mendip House experienced.
You can see the update from NAS here
Last week we heard that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had fined NAS £4,000.
This fine is for NAS not following the regulations on protecting people’s money.
You can read NAS’s statement on that here
It was also confirmed that no staff or organisations are being prosecuted for what happened at Mendip House.
The member representatives at Learning Disability England have read the newspaper articles and people’s responses on social media.
Like many of them we are left feeling a lot of different emotions –
- Fear that people’s rights are not equal to other citizens if they do not get the same access to justice when they are harmed
- Anger that this can happen to people and was not stopped straight away
- Disbelief that such serious financial abuse only leads to a £4,000 fine
- Worry about the messages this sends to everyone in society about how important autistic people are
What we are doing next
Learning Disability England exists to work for change.
We are left with a lot of questions that we want to find answers to. We will use the answers to help make change happen so people with learning disabilities, autistic people, and their families get access to justice if they do experience problems and people supporting them know the agencies responsible for prosecutions or regulation will act in the best interests of the people they support.
The questions we are asking are
- Why was there not enough evidence to prosecute?
- How was evidence gathered by the police or other agencies who do that?
- Did the people getting evidence use good practice in getting information from autistic people or people who do not use words to communicate?
- Did CQC use all its powers in this situation?
- Why has it taken so long for this fine to be decided?
- What are the rules on sanctions, fines etc.
- What must happen to result in what sanctions?
- Did anyone check on what the commissioners organising or buying the support had done and make them change if there were mistakes?
We have written to CQC and The Police and Crime Commissioner asking these questions.
Click here to see the letter to police and click here to see the letter to CQC.
You can find out about the Representative Body members and what we do here