Dan Scorer, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the learning disability charity Mencap, said:

 “Today’s Joint Committee on Human Rights report again exposes the shocking treatment of people with a learning disability and/or autism in in-patient units. Its recommendations will be welcomed by families whose loved ones remain locked away in these “modern day asylums”, despite numerous government and NHS promises to change this. We have been campaigning for nearly a decade to get people with a learning disability and/or autism out of these units because they are simply the wrong environment to care for the 2,250 children and adults with a learning disability and / or autism trapped in them, damaging them and putting them at increased risk of abuse and neglect.

“We’ve supported many brave parents like Bethany’s dad, Jeremy, who has spoken out about the appalling treatment of his daughter, and the review into how health and social care services failed her, which the government is currently sitting on. The fact that Bethany continues to be locked away, like the thousands of other children and adults with a learning disability and/or autism in ATUs, shows the need for urgent action and investment in social care to ensure that there is the right support and housing available in our communities, so that people can receive the care and support they need close to home and loved ones. The Department for Health and Social Care must now agree to act on all the recommendations from the review into Bethany’s care and accept the Joint Committee on Human Rights report findings and ensure change is delivered. We need ongoing commitment from all political parties to transform care, and the government – whoever that is after the election - to implement a cross-government plan to deliver investment in the specialist care in the community that is so desperately needed. This human rights scandal has to end.”

Jeremy, Bethany’s dad, said:

“Having now read both the serious case review into my daughter’s care and the JCHR report, it is clear how ineffective the system is that should care for some of our most vulnerable members of society. 

“Inpatient treatment rarely works and as admitted in my daughter’s legal case it actually causes harm.

“There must be the creation of a Government unit as recommended and as both reports clearly identify, parents must be seen as partners instead of being blamed. 

“Laws must be changed to make all relevant public bodies more accountable. 

“I’m glad to see recommendations that the CQC should be reformed, however it must also be given more teeth to take stronger actions than they are currently able to. 

“Ultimately no real changes will occur until resources are made available to kick start the creation of homes in the community. Not units or secure hospitals. 

“My worry is that both of these reports will simply be filed away as has happened to so many previous reports and reviews. We need actions.”

Read the full Joint Committee on Human Rights report online here:https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/human-rights-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/detention-children-learning-disabilities-autism-inquiry-17-19/publications/


For further information, contact Mencap’s media team on: media@mencap.org.uk or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).  

About Mencap 

There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. www.mencap.org.uk       

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (9am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk .     

What is a learning disability?    

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;    
  • Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;     
  • People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.