Both were commissioned in the wake of physical and psychological abuse suffered by people with a learning disability at Winterbourne View Hospital, exposed by a Panorama investigation broadcast in 2011.  

In a letter published today in the Telegraph and on the Mencap website, the families of the victims of Winterbourne View, families of others who have been in similar places, and supporting organisations, expressed their concern at the lack of progress made. 

In particular, it has been revealed today that:

  • there is barely any change in the number of people with a learning disability in in-patient units since 2010 - in the 2010 Census for England, there were found to be 3,376 people and in 2013 the number is 3,250
  • 60% (1,949) of these people have been in units for one year or more. Almost a quarter have been in five years or more
  • in the South West, over half of people are in units 100km or more from home (80 people). In the North East just under 8.8% of people are in units 100km or more from home (29 people).

Jan Tregelles, Chief Executive of Mencap, and Vivien Cooper, Chief Executive of The Challenging Behaviour Foundation, commented:

Finally, The Learning Disability Census Report, which shows how many people with a learning disability across the country are still in places like Winterbourne View, has been published. What it reveals is alarming – that the pace of progress has been distressingly slow. This is undermining the confidence of families in the government process as they are increasingly concerned it will continue to fail to protect their loved ones. 

It is now two and half years since the Winterbourne View scandal and the census and progress report show nothing has changed. Many people with a learning disability are still in in-patient units hundreds of miles away from their homes and many have been there for over a year or more. We recently found out that 13 people who were at Winterbourne View are still in in-patient units and the census reveals that this is only the tip of the iceberg. If the government cannot get it right for even the 48 people who were at Winterbourne View, what chance is there for the 3,250  people stuck in similar units?  

This is shocking. We have been granted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, post Winterbourne View, to get care right. If the government and local areas don’t stop dithering, we will miss this unique opportunity. In so doing, they continue to fail not only people with a learning disability, but everyone who saw or heard about what happened at Winterbourne View and demanded change.


For more information, please contact the Media team at Mencap on 020 7696 6937 or

About Out of sight

Out of Sight is a campaign report by Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation and tells the stories of James, Chrissy, Joe, Emmanuel and Victoria. In the report, their families talk about the terrible neglect and abuse their loved ones have experienced in institutions like Winterbourne View, often far away from home.

Mencap and The Challenging Behaviour Foundation are two of the voluntary organisations who were asked to sign a Concordat agreement with the Department of Health, to hold the government to account.

The charities will continue to work to ensure people with learning disabilities and their families have a strong voice in all of the Winterbourne View Joint Improvement Programme work, as well as providing support to families fighting to bring their loved ones back closer to home.

About Mencap

There are 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.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email

About The Challenging Behaviour Foundation

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation provides information, support and training around challenging behaviour associated with severe learning disabilities, and leads the ‘Challenging Behaviour National Strategy Group’ which seeks to influence policy and practice nationally on behalf of individuals who challenge and their families.

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation was founded in 1997 by Vivien Cooper, parent of a son with severe learning disabilities and behaviour described as challenging. Today the Challenging Behaviour Foundation is in regular contact with over 5000 families and professionals across the UK.

There are an estimated 30,000 individuals in England with severe learning disabilities and behaviour described as challenging.