Letter: Abuse: now we must learn the lessons

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The Independent Online
Abuse: now we must learn the lessons

Sir: The decision of the jury in the Buckinghamshire case ("Three convicted after reign of terror at care home", 15 May) is to be welcomed. The Association for Residential Care believes that there should now be an independent inquiry into all aspects of the way the case was handled.

It would seem from her public comments that the chair of Buckinghamshire social services committee considers the conduct of the regulatory authority is something she feels she can be proud of. However, it was only the public outcry over the case when Buckinghamshire's Inspection Unit report detailing sustained abuse over many years was leaked which forced the police to reopen the case, leading to the recent conviction.

There were many agencies and professionals involved in this case: the local police, local social services, the (allegedly independent) Inspection Unit, the regional SSI, the health service. Not all the families involved were aware of the stories of abuse and the revelations in The Independent came as a rude awakening.

There are many lessons to be learnt about inter-agency responsibility and co-operation, about responding appropriately to allegations of abuse and taking account of the degree of vulnerability of adults with learning disabilities. If 10 years of abuse, followed by a three-year investigation and trial arising from a leaked document is counted by those responsible for protecting vulnerable people as a success, one wonders what more would have to happen to constitute failure.

JAMES CHURCHILL

Chief Executive

Association for Residential Care

Chesterfield, Derbyshire

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