Monday 18 December 2017
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Margate naked video: Calls for government to review care

Calls have been made for a government review into the care system after video footage showed Kent care home staff drinking, stripping and swearing while at work.

The video showed one carer dancing naked around a young deaf and blind man at Thanet Lodge in Margate.

The trust that ran the now-closed home has said it did as much as it could when confronted with the evidence.

But the National Deaf Children's Society wants a far-reaching review.

The charity's director of policy and campaigns Brian Gale said: "[We] will be calling on the government to review what has happened at Margate, so that we can learn lessons so that other vulnerable young people elsewhere aren't put through the same ordeal."

He said the review should look at funding, staff training and supervision but also added: "I think we need to look again at the regulatory powers of organisations like the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted and perhaps we need to look at whether the law is strong enough in certain parts."

Kent Police said public protection officers looked at the video and thoroughly investigated evidence of neglect in relation to an adult victim.

But while the acts were "wholly inappropriate and irresponsible" they did not fit the criteria for a specific criminal offence, Det Insp John Cooper said.

He said: "No further course of action was available to officers on this occasion. This decision was subsequently reviewed and verified by a detective inspector."

Thanet Lodge was part of the John Townsend Trust (JTT), which included the now-closed Royal School for Deaf Children.

Earlier, former trust chairman John Colyer said the behaviour was indefensible.

"The JTT did as much as possible when we saw it," he added.

Mr Colyer said: "I feel for the CEO who rightly instantly dismissed the four who were badly behaved.

"The JTT took all necessary steps to notify all the relevant authorities. We closed that residence as soon as we could.

"I also want to make clear that many other staff in that boarding house are not to blame."

The four people who lost their jobs in September 2014 after a whistleblower handed in the footage were team leader Yvette Surrage, support workers Jane Smith and David Gardiner, and senior support worker Ben Healy, who filmed the incident.

Ms Smith was seen dancing naked around the young man. It is not clear whether Mr Gardiner was in the room when Ms Smith did this.

Ms Surrage was seen dancing semi-clothed in the footage.

All four responded to the BBC on Wednesday. Ms Surrage said there was no conviction or prosecution because no young adults were involved, Mr Gardiner said he felt the incident brought no harm to the students, Ms Smith said she deeply regretted what had happened, and Mr Healy said there was no footage that displayed him acting inappropriately.

The John Townsend Trust ran both the Royal School for Deaf Children and its post-16 department Westgate College, but they closed in December after the trust went into administration.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) revealed there had been institutionalised failings and abuse at the residential accommodation attached to Westgate College, which it ordered the trust to close down last November.