Most of the perpetrators have been arrested following the BBC's Panorama programme, which highlighted the systematic abuse of people with learning disabilities in a residential care unit.
The programme, shown on Tuesday 31 May, exposed a regime of routine unnecessary punishing, restraining and bullying of the institution’s residents. This occurred at the privately-run Winterbourne View care unit near Bristol in the UK. Using secret cameras, an undercover reporter captured a culture where care staff routinely taunted, kicked, slapped and pinned down residents.
>Institutionalisation is clearly a human rights issue for all EU Members States
Institutionalisation is characterised by inhumane environments, sedation, solitary confinement and physical restraint. The excluded residents are also deprived of the right to choose. Erik Olsen, EDF Executive Member who works for the NGO the European Network of (ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (ENUSP) stated:“The institutionalisation of persons with disabilities is not only a problem limited to the UK’s care system, this case was merely one example. Our figures suggest that hundreds of thousands of people across the EU are housed in institutions. Further, we have identified that it is in fact a problem to which the EU still contributes financially via the Structural Funds when they are used to refurbish and create new institutions. Mainstreaming the UN Convention is the only way forward .”
In December 2010, the EU concluded the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which firmly establishes a life within the community as a fundamental right (Art. 19). With such a strong legal basis EDF is fighting for the Deinstitutionalisation of persons with disabilities and is asking to promote transition towards high quality community based care.
Some EU countries correctly implement the Structural Funds to promote the transition to community based services. Therefore EDF is calling on Member States to stop using EU money to finance institutions. We also want the European Commission to ensure that no money is invested in projects aimed at restoring such facilities. 80 million European with disabilities want their dignity and to their fundamental rights.