Substantial number of staff convicted in Devon care home abuse investigations

There has recently been media publicity linked to the convictions of staff/abusers in care homes in Devon.

We are already acting for a client in relation to substandard care being provided to autistic youths at a Residential Home for autistic children in the Dorset area, including in relation to inappropriate holds using excessive force, and serious neglect in the home. The abuse on vulnerable adults with learning disabilities at the Vielstone and Gatooma homes potentially includes a claim for compensation in relation to false imprisonment. The BBC reports that ‘Residents at Vielstone near Bideford, in Devon, were routinely punished by being held in empty rooms without food, heating or a toilet, a court heard.’


The organisation running the care home is potentially liable for negligence considering such homes are subject to strict standards. There is strict regulation for children’s care under the Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015. If caring for vulnerable adults there will be further regulations to comply with under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. The organisation employing the abusive care perpetrators will also be vicariously liable for abusive acts carried out at the home. A criminal conviction secured such as in the Vielstone and Gatooma cases will strengthen the prospects for making a civil claim for compensation considerably. The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides for an assessment process that must be undertaken before deprivation of liberty may be authorised during care, relevant to considering the false imprisonment in this instance, which was clearly unlawful.


Abuse of vulnerable children with conditions such as autism must be managed with care, as separating out the impact of the abuse from the autistic condition will need to be considered by an experienced psychologist/psychiatric expert with expertise in both autism and abuse in children/young teenagers/adults. We have specialist links to experts in this regard.


Such abuse can result in particular regressive symptoms in young adults, such as psychological and emotional damage including PTSD, Flashbacks, increased aggression and meltdowns, severely challenging behaviour impacting relationships, regression in social & personal care skills, self-harm, anxiety & depression. I am gladdened to hear some justice has been achieved in relation to improving care standards by the strict criminal prosecutions, but it is important to remember that civil claims for compensation will also flow from the acts of these deplorable individuals, including claiming the cost of getting appropriate psychological treatment in place for these vulnerable adults to ensure they are provided with the best chance to recover from their ordeal.

If you, or a loved one, have been affected by this blog, please do not hesitate to contact our team of experienced social service abuse lawyers who will be happy to speak to you about whether it may be possible to bring a claim.

Below is a selection of organisations/instutions/bodies we are frequently instructed to pursue.


  • Private schools, boarding schools, local authority schools, closed schools, hospital schools.


  • The Scouts Association, St Johns Ambulance, MIND, the Children’s Society, Barnados.

Private companies

  • Football trainers, judo teachers, dance instructors, swimming instructors, holiday activity centres, nurseries, youth clubs.

Local Authorities/Ministry of Defence

  • County Councils, Borough Councils, City Councils, ILEA, cadets, navy/ army (forces).

National Health Service Trusts/Commissioning Boards/GPs

  • Hospitals, Disability care centres, children’s care providers.


  • Convicted perpetrators, acquitted perpetrators.

Children’s Homes

  • Respite care, full time children’s home, part-time children’s homes.

Religious Institutions

  • Roman Catholic Church, United Synagogue, Sisters of Nazareth, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Brothers Order.

Foster Carers

  • Permanent carers, temporary carers

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