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Release people with learning disabilities & autism trapped in Assessment & Treatment Units

This petition had 1,875 supporters

We urgently draw your attention to the hidden scandal of the 3,000 people (very many of them young people with autism – diagnosed or otherwise) who are currently held in Assessment and Treatment Units across the country. People are locked away, often hundreds of miles from their families, in places which cause them great distress and ill health.

Many of these people are being held under wholly inappropriate sections which are in place purely because local authorities and CCG commissioners will not identify and agree funding for appropriate housing and support.

We must end this ATU scandal!

The stories that families have shared with us since the start of our campaign in April are clear that there is unequivocal evidence that the ATU has, for many people, become our modern day Bedlam, where the most vulnerable people are held against their will and the will of loving families. The upset and anguish in these settings leads to behaviours which are readily cited as reason enough to keep people locked away. It is a shameful reflection of our society and parents legitimately live in fear of what will happen to their autistic child when they turn 18.

What families and campaigners want is an end to locking up people with autism and learning difficulties. This must no longer be seen as an appropriate long term option. Instead, these are the people who should be getting the very best our CCGs and LAs can offer, being supported to thrive and grow as useful and valued citizens.

These people have committed no crime. They have rarely been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Yet, they remain in Units for years at a time.

• There are currently 3,000 people in ATUs.
• 43% of the people are in Units more than 50km from their homes.
• 72% are being prescribed antipsychotic medication as a means of containing them.
• 30% of people have been in ATUs for more than 5 years.
• The average cost of being kept in an ATU is £3500 per week.

We demand that society stops cleansing itself of those people it finds challenging to deal with, and instead they must be welcomed back into our communities to receive the very best support we can offer to try and begin to undo the sometimes irreparable harm that has been done to them.

The people in these places do not have time for us to let change happen at a gradual pace. Their lives are being wasted. People have already died. More people will die unless we demand an end to long term containment of people with autism and learning disabilities.

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