Our Letter to Harriet Harman

Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights

Dear Ms Harman,

Following the recent (attached) letter copied to you from the Rightful Lives campaign, we were delighted to see the letter from you last week on behalf of the Joint Committee on Human Rights to the Minister for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock. You may also be aware that the EHRC responded positively and are currently considering the action they will take. We are grateful that this issue is finally being addressed.

I am writing to request a meeting between you and the families leading the Rightful Lives campaign, Julie Newcombe, Mark Brown and Mark Neary so that they can help you understand what is happening in these situations for many people with learning disabilities and autism and their families. Mark Neary successfully fought under the Human Rights Act for his son Steven to be able to return home after being wrongly held in an Assessment and Treatment Unit for 359 days – this was 8 years ago and despite this precedent, people like Steven Neary continue to be held in these hospitals when what they need is support in their communities.

We are disturbed by recent press coverage in the Mail on Sunday and Sky News that evidence how widespread this is and how organisations are profiting from it. We think that this issue needs to be addressed through a human rights lense and we would be grateful if we could discuss this with you.

If you haven’t already, please take a look at the Rightful Lives online exhibition http://rightfullives.net/ and we look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Julie was invited to give evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights. The Joint Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the detention, and treatment of people with learning disabilities and autism in Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs) and other inpatient units. It is also inquiring into the detention of children and young people in mental health hospitals and the threat that this poses to Human Rights.