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People with learning disabilities 'trapped' in ATUs

Support for campaign highlighting issue of people with learning disabilities kept in 'short term assessment units' - often for years

Posted on 18 April 2016

A leading human rights lawyer is supporting ‘Seven Days of Action’ a social media campaign launched today aimed at highlighting the issue of people with learning disabilities ‘trapped’ within Assessment & Treatment Units (ATUs) due to a lack of provision in the local community.

Emma Jones, a partner in the human rights team at Leigh Day is currently investigating potential legal action under the Care Act, the Children's Act and the Human Rights Act in relation to five families.

She told the BBC: "In a nutshell, the position we are facing in this country is that there aren't enough community provisions being provided which means that people who no longer meet the criteria to be detained remain locked up because [there is] nowhere else for them to go.

"If they're locked up when they shouldn't be locked up they are detained unlawfully and that's a breach of their human rights.”

Debbie Evans’ 24-year-old son Eden has been in institutions for seven years. He has autism and a learning disability. Having found it difficult to support her son.

She told the BBC that Eden had no formal education from the age of eight as there was no proper provision for him in the community.

She said: "It got really hard with him when he was 14; he hadn't had any education and basically he lashed out at me,"

"It got to the point that I couldn't breathe - it was 24 hours a day seven days a week.”

Eden ended up in an assessment and treatment unit which are intended to be short stay hospitals where patients are given a plan of care to support them back into the community. However, this did not happen in Eden's case and Ms Evans said: "He's been trapped for seven long years,”

'Seven Days of Action' will see the release of a new story each day of a loved one in an ATU away from their families. To read these stories - click here