In June of last year, a shocking Panorama documentary exposed the abuse of people with learning disabilities at the hands of those who were supposed to care for them. People across the country were rightly horrified. While the abuses at Winterbourne View were crimes committed by individuals who are now facing the legal consequences, the documentary also revealed how many people with a learning disability, particularly those whose behaviour can be challenging, have been left isolated and at risk of abuse in “assessment and treatment” units, often far from home.
United Response was appalled by what we saw, and blogged heavily on the topic at the time, demanding that we finally learn the lessons needed to prevent such abuse. Along with many organisations who work with disabled people, we lobbied MPs for change and spoke out in the media.
Soon after, the Government announced that it would conduct a review, looking at the reforms that are needed to stop anything like this happening again. The review will be published after the prosecutions of the people charged in relation to what happened at Winterbourne View, and once the serious case review has been completed.
We, along with several other charities, are determined to do all we can to ensure that the review’s recommendations are strong enough to truly stamp out the kind of systematic abuse we saw at Winterbourne View. We have joined with partners including Mencap and The Challenging Behaviour Foundation to campaign on this crucial issue.
If you would like to join us in the campaign to close large assessment and treatment units that make people vulnerable to abuse, then you can support us by contacting your MP today. People with learning disabilities should all have the right to live in community-based services that keep them close to their family and friends, not hidden from sight.
Please email your MP today by clicking here and asking them to call on the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley MP, to set out plans to ensure people with a learning disability are protected from abuse and supported in their communities.
Jaime Gill, head of press and public affairs, United Response