SCIE press release

Improving protection for people with learning disabilities

8 August 2012

The report into the abuse of people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View, published on 7 August, catalogues a series of serious failings both by the hospital and agencies involved in safeguarding adults.

The serious case review into the Winterbourne View case highlighted failures throughout the safeguarding system, and commissioners, regulators and providers of services all have something to learn from the review’s conclusions. SCIE’s work on safeguarding can help to keep people with challenging behaviour and learning disabilities safe.

Patricia Kearney, SCIE’s Interim Director of Adult Services

SCIE’s multi-agency policy and procedures work advises agencies involved in adult safeguarding on how they can work together successfully to protect adults at risk.

The review also notes the possible inappropriateness of existing serious case review methodology in cases of institutional abuse. SCIE’s Learning Together model for case review provides a 'systems' model of organisational learning and has been well received in children’s safeguarding settings. SCIE is now piloting this approach in adult safeguarding settings.

Another report published on the same day also raises serious questions about standards of residential care for people with learning disabilities. Out of Sight, published by Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, looks at the risks of abuse and neglect to people with learning disabilities living in care. It highlights the problem of moving people with learning disabilities away from their families and placing them in residential care hundreds of miles away. This increases the risk of abuse because families are unable to visit very often and do not pick up on signs of abuse. SCIE’s Knowledge review 20: Commissioning person-centred, cost-effective, local support for people with learning disabilities takes an in-depth look at this issue.


Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: