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Investigations continue into abuse claims at Hill End Adolescent Unit

Human rights lawyers are continuing their investigations  on behalf of former patients of Hill End Adolescent Unit following allegations of abuse and over-sedation at the unit over a 25-year period.

Posted on 23 March 2023

The potential civil claims follow a three-year inquiry by Hertfordshire Constabulary Major Crime Unit which discovered evidence of systematic over-sedation of vulnerable young people who were patients in the unit between 1969 and 1995.

Records reveal that inpatients as young as 10 years old were routinely given adult doses of sedatives as a form of punishment and control and when the unit was short staffed. These drugs caused many patients to experience frightening and painful side effects and rendered some unconscious for hours or days at a time leaving them vulnerable to other forms of abuse. Leigh Day is also investigating multiple allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

Hill End Adolescent Unit was a psychiatric in-patient treatment facility for adolescents under the age of 16 which was operational between 1969 and 1995. The unit was based in St Albans in the grounds of a large psychiatric hospital and took referrals from the North West Thames Regional Health Authority.

Many of the adolescents admitted to Hill End were vulnerable and subject to care orders or suffered from severe mental health or psychiatric conditions. A large number were simply placed at the unit to give their carers or parents a break or because an alternative appropriate placement could not be found. Conditions in the unit are described by former patients as hostile, experimental and abusive.

Leigh Day are currently instructed by a large group of former patients of the unit but many more would have passed through the unit during the 25 years it was operational.

Associate Solicitor at Leigh Day Saoirse Kerrigan is leading the investigation into the claims of former patients. She said:

“Our clients tell us they lived in constant fear of sedation which was often administered by force in a violent and humiliating manner. All of our clients were deeply affected by what they witnessed and experienced at the Unit and many still suffer the effects to this day.  

“Although the police investigation disappointingly concluded with no further action being taken, it is of vital importance to our clients to achieve closure on the horrific experiences they suffered at Hill End Adolescent Unit. They believe there needs to be accountability and an apology.

"If you were a patient or worked at Hill End Adolescent Unit between 1969 and 1995 and have information that might assist Leigh Day investigations please get in touch."

Saoirse Kerrigan
Abuse claims Actions against the police Human rights Inquests Judicial review

Saoirse Kerrigan

Saoirse is a human rights lawyer

Emma Jones

Emma Jones

Emma runs the team working on the contaminated blood inquiry 

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Abuse Human rights

Police investigation into alleged abuse at Hill End Adolescent Unit is concluded

Hertfordshire police have concluded their investigation into reports of excessive use of sedation and non-recent sexual assaults against children who had stayed at Hill End Adolescent Unit a mental health facility in St Albans.