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Landmark Civil Case for Longcare Victims
David Congdon, Mencap’s Head of External Relations, said: “The Longcare residents suffered from a dreadful regime of abuse and neglect over a sustained number of years. It is doubly appalling that so much of the residents’ suffering could have been prevented if only Buckinghamshire County Council had taken action sooner.
“This case is a wake-up call to all the relevant registration and regulatory bodies to do everything they can to prevent such abuse of people with a learning disability happening again.
“It is important to ensure that people with a learning disability are given the same protection as other victims of abuse. Mencap therefore welcomes the proposals in the Sex Offences Bill to provide long prison sentences for those guilty of abuse.”
It spurred the Home Office report, Setting the Boundaries (2000) and Mencap report Behind Closed Doors (2001) calling for tougher penalties for sex crimes against vulnerable people with a learning disability – to deter sex offenders and, when crimes occur, ensure the perpetrators are bought to justice. Sexual abuse against people with a learning disability is 4 times higher than for the rest of the population, but only 6% of cases reach conviction. The Sex Offences Bill is currently going through Parliament.
Buckinghamshire County Council’s failings were crucial in the government’s decision to replace a patchwork of inspection regimes run by local and health authorities with the National Care Standards Commission in April 2002 – the first national independent body to regulate social care services in England – and to introduce new national minimum standards.