July 1, 2016
Welfare allegations investigated at autism centre near Burnham-On-Sea

Police have launched an investigation following allegations concerning the welfare of vulnerable residents at a leading specialist centre for people with autism near Burnham-On-Sea.

The National Autistic Society, which runs Somerset Court in Brent Knoll, alerted the police and other authorities after concerns were raised about people at one of the bungalows within the complex, Mendip House.

In a statement this week, it says: "We can confirm that following allegations about the welfare of residents at one of our residential services we took immediate action, alerting all the relevant authorities including the police, and we are now working closely with the different agencies on their investigations."

"Parents and carers were also informed at the earliest possible opportunity and are being kept up to date with progress on the investigations and the changes that are already being put in place to ensure the people living in our service are cared for to the highest standard."

"This is our primary concern, and we are doing everything necessary to ensure they are properly supported. As the situation is subject to a police investigation, we are unable to comment further at this time."

Avon and Somerset Police have confirmed they are investigating.

A police spokesman said: "An investigation has begun into an allegation surrounding the welfare of residents at Mendip House, Highbridge. This investigation is at a very early stage."

Set in 26 acres of land, Somerset Court was the first specialist centre for people with autistism in the UK. Mendip House is one of seven within the centre. It is a large detached bungalow with room for up to eight people who have autism and complex support needs.

A report published by the health and social care regulator the Care Quality Commission in 2014 following an inspection was largely positive, but flagged up what it called "inconsistent practice and failures to take appropriate action relating to best interests decisions."


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