Justice system allows abusers to go unpunished

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Criminals are getting away with abusing people with learning difficulties because the justice system does not take them seriously, campaigners warned yesterday.

Nearly two thirds of social workers know a person with learning difficulties who has been a victim of crime, but, of the cases that reached court, only 15 per cent resulted in a conviction. A report by Community Care magazine said that many cases were dropped because the courts and the criminal justice system do not consider them as "real" crimes or the victims as "good witnesses".

The survey, which questioned 1,000 social workers, also revealed that the majority knew a person with learning difficulties who had been abused by a someone from within an establishment. Of these cases, nearly 20 per cent were not referred for investigation.

The report coincides with the launch of the magazine's campaign - A Fair Dealing: Justice for People with Learning Difficulties - which calls for the Government to issue clear guidelines about how the police, Crown Prosecution Service, lawyers and judges, should deal with these cases. Glenda Cooper