The National Association of Inspection and Registration Officers, which represents about 500 social workers inspecting residential homes, wants it made easier for suspect homes to be closed quickly. At present, they can remain open for months, even where serious abuse is alleged.
The move comes after reports in the Independent of allegations that mentally handicapped residents in two Buckinghamshire homes had been sexually and physically abused. Despite an internal report which detailed the allegations, Buckinghamshire has decided to let the homes stay open. It claimed the new management had made improvements but also, confidentially, advised its social services committee that trying to close the home would involve a long, protracted and costly legal dispute.
'This is precisely what we must put a stop to,' Heather Wing, chairman of the association said. She said many situations of abuse would be avoided if social workers could act faster to close suspect homes.
Relatives of residents alleged to have been abused announced yesterday that they were forming a victim support group. Andrew Atkinson, who is to co-ordinate it, said: 'We hope that people will join us. We are appealing both to relatives and to residents. We are very worried that there are residents in the homes who do not apparently have any relatives and no one to support them.
'But we also hope that by banding together, the Government will be forced to do something.'
Mr Atkinson, who has a relative in one of the two homes, Stoke Place and Stoke Green in Stoke Poges, is to sue Buckinghamshire for negligence. One other family has also applied for legal aid to take similar proceedings.
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