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Winterbourne View – never again
Monday 29 October 2012
As care workers at Winterbourne View are given custodial sentences, Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation demand that such abuse “must never happen again”
Six care workers at the Winterbourne View assessment and treatment centre have been sentenced to jail, charged with neglect and ill-treatment of people with a learning disability.
Ringleader Wayne Rogers, 32, who admitted nine counts was jailed for two years. Alison Dove, 25, was jailed for 20 months, as was Graham Doyle, 26. Both pleaded guilty to seven charges of abuse. Three others received lesser sentences, and five were given suspended sentences.
The sentencing of the 11 staff began on Monday 22 October at Bristol Crown Court. Between them, they faced 38 charges. They were detained after the BBC’s ‘Panorama’ uncovered serious abuse at Winterbourne View last May.
Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation believe that the sentences send a clear message that the abuse of vulnerable people with a learning disability will not be tolerated, and those individuals responsible have rightly been held to account in a criminal court. But the sentencing is only the start of making real change for people with a learning disability.
A statement from the two charities says: “This must never happen again. Yet it is clear that the system is failing people with a learning disability, who are being sent away to institutions often hundreds of miles from home, where they remain for years, at increased risk of abuse and neglect.
“Mencap and The Challenging Behaviour Foundation are calling on the government to drive through the closure of these institutions, and commit to developing local services so people with a learning disability can live near their families in their local communities.”
The Department of Health has issued a number of statements committing to reducing the number of people being sent away for long periods for 'assessment and treatment. They agree that people should move out of services quickly and that local services should be commissioned.
However, the charities are disappointed that at present there is no indication of how the government is going to enforce these much needed changes, the timetable for closure or the reallocation of funds.
The families have thanked the police for their support, but are aware that the case would not have got to court without the secret filming of ‘Panorama’ and offer the team their “heartfelt gratitude”. Beverley Dawkins, Mencap’s national policy manager for profound and multiple learning disabilities, read the statement on behalf of some of the families who had loved ones at Winterbourne View (pictured).
“Viewing the footage shown in court this week has been distressing and extremely harrowing,” she said. “The guilty parties were only charged with offences shown on the Panorama programme and it would be naïve to believe that this monstrous behaviour had not been continuing for a very long time.
“We sincerely hope that the government will seize this unique opportunity with both hands to actually enforce existing policy and enshrine some of those changes in law. There should be no cross party dissension over such an issue. In this, the 21st century, places like Winterbourne View should not exist, they should be closed and more local services developed.”
The families and charities have asked for an urgent meeting with care services minister Norman Lamb, to press the government to use its report (due in November) to announce how it will enforce a phased closure programme of institutions like Winterbourne View. And to clarify precisely how it will ensure that local, expert, services are provided and funded.
Panorama highlights continuing abuse
Following its shocking exposure of the violent abuse of people with a learning disability and/or behaviours that challenge at Winterbourne View last year, a follow-up 'Panorama' investigation (shown on Monday 29 October) revealed new evidence of similar treatment in other care establishments. It showed that at least 19 of the 51 residents moved from Winterbourne View have been abused or injured in their new residences.
On Monday morning, Mencap's chief executive Mark Goldring and former care services minister Paul Burstow, spoke on Radio 4's 'Today' programme, to discuss the revelations.
Mark said: "When Winterbourne was rightly closed after the scandals last year, many were sent on to other institutions, whereas actually what needs to happen is that people are cared for and supported in smaller facilities, close to their homes where they can be reintegrated into society as quickly as possible."
Listen to Mark Goldring and Paul Burstow discussing the latest revelations on BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme
Watch the BBC 'Panorama' follow-up investigation, 'The Hospital That Stopped Caring'
Contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 if you have any concerns about the issues raised from the Winterbourne View sentencing or the 'Panorama' programme