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Adults with learning difficulties 'at grave risk'


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PETER GILROY: "I am waiting for a tragedy to happen in Kent and when it does, the first questions will be why did it happen and what did you do about it"
PETER GILROY: "I am waiting for a tragedy to happen in Kent and when it does, the first questions will be why did it happen and what did you do about it"

VULNERABLE adults with learning difficulties are being “abandoned” in Kent by other councils, risking a major tragedy, say social services chiefs.

A county council report has revealed that adults placed in un-regulated homes in Kent by other local authorities are sometimes left “for years at a time” without any formal check on their welfare.

Peter Gilroy, KCC’s social services director, said the attitude of other councils who chose to place both adults and looked after children in parts of the county “bordered on irresponsible” and risked a major tragedy.

Official KCC figures show that by the end of 2003, close to 1,000 looked after children and 766 vulnerable adults had been placed in the care of Kent by other councils, mainly in London.

That exceeds the number from Kent itself and has prompted renewed calls for Government intervention. KCC is also planning to commission an independent inquiry into the subject.

In a blunt warning, Mr Gilroy told senior councillors: "It is a serious matter. It is a form of management that borders on the irresponsible. I am waiting for a tragedy to happen in Kent and when it does, the first questions will be why did it happen and what did you do about it.”

A report presented to KCC’s Conservative cabinet said: “Many adults with learning difficulties are effectively abandoned in Kent by their placing authorites, without care management reviews for years at a time. There are serious adult protection risks associated with this situation.”

In an outspoken attack, county council leader Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart accused London boroughs of “making a monkey” of Kent by choosing the county to place children and adults despite knowing the problems.

“There has been a complete lack of political will to tackle this matter. We are being made a monkey of by other authorities and are not getting the support we need from Government,” he said.

Social services departments are responsible for the care of both adults and children while in Kent but not other services, notably health and education.

By far the largest number of children and adults are placed in care homes in some of east Kent’s poorest towns, with the highest number in Thanet.

London boroughs identified as the “worst offenders” include Islington, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham, Bromley and Lambeth. Many of the homes are not used by KCC and as a result are not checked by local agencies.

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