True detectives, (in)justice and the law

[9.8.15] I’m writing this in advance of a meeting with the police tomorrow at 4pm. A meeting that will, I suspect, involve closing the investigation into LB’s death. There won’t be enough evidence to put a case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to bring a charge of corporate manslaughter against Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (Sloven). These charges rarely happen in the NHS and early findings from the second Verita review suggest that Sloven will slither away, largely untouched. Despite numerous failings documented in their Oxfordshire provision (the ‘north of their patch’). Captain fantastic spending on consultancy that should never be necessary. Pricey legal representation will reduce reputational damage to a blip. Blips will be obliterated with tedious (meaningless, utterly meaningless) ‘lessons learned’ bleats. Blips, bleats and back to business [because that’s what it’s about] as usual.

The young dude who, stuck in a now acknowledged, recognised and subsequently closed Sloven run hell hole, denied his right to life. Unsupervised in the bath. Despite a diagnosis of epilepsy and documented concerns about increasing seizure activity. A life too easily swept into the ‘we couldn’t give a flying fuck’ corner. Like so many others like him.


We first met the police the morning LB died. In the ‘relatives room’ in the John Radcliffe hospital. A space of abject, unspeakable horror. Disbelief, horror, tears, howling horror, sugary tea, organ donation talk, horror, tea, tissues, tears. An hour or so earlier, I’d been on my way to work on the number 8 from Barton to Oxford city centre. Fran and I texting about the school prom the following evening.

The care and sensitivity the A&E team demonstrated was matched by the two police officers who pitched up that morning. Their involvement seemed to be a formality at first. There didn’t appear to be anything suspicious… ‘No’ we managed to say. Among the tears, tea and tissues. LB should not be dead. Dead? 

Since that morning, the police investigation started, stopped, restarted after the first Verita report findings and now, who knows. The bar for a corporate manslaughter charge is so high, it’s almost meaningless. Particularly in the NHS. You might as well chuck shedloads of documented shite practice into the nearest skip as the one email/letter/report/piece of evidence that demonstrates that the board clearly knew that practice was shite and did crap all, is so unlikely to be found. Despite the blinking obvious fact that NHS trust boards should be aware of the level of shite practice that happens on their watch. Particularly when they’ve taken over known failing or dodgy services.

[Update: 10.8.15]

The police haven’t the evidence to put a criminal case before the CPS. The bar of ‘gross’ negligence hasn’t been met. Negligent yep. Gross negligence no. Their investigation is now effectively closed. Our definition of ‘gross’ negligence a world away from that of the law. LB died. He barely gained a scratch in 18 years in our care but died in specialist NHS provision completely unnecessarily. The 2011/12 quality account flagged up the failure of Ridgeway Partnership to improve their epilepsy related practice and the necessity for this to be sorted as a priority. But hey ho. Wait till someone dies and then ban everyone from bathing on the Slade House site for six months. No one from head office way down south will know (or care).

The police, particularly the detective constable who happened to be on duty that morning, and his sergeant, were committed to thoroughly investigating what happened. The contrast between their consistent decency and humanity and the cruelness and unresponsiveness demonstrated by other public agencies is striking. They engaged with us as human beings, people who have and continue to be put through the unimaginable. The law simply seems to be a too crude tool with a measure of injustice built into the system.

I drifted a bit. Sitting in the kitchen with the three officers as they talked us through the investigation. And wondered what LB would think. He had an unwavering lifetime love of the police and the law. Of justice and human rights. He would love the attention to detail and careful process being described. It would be something he would return to endlessly. The source of a billion questions.

‘Why did they close the case mum?’

22 thoughts on “True detectives, (in)justice and the law

  1. How unbearably sad that last line
    and how very destructive still this disgraceful process
    Just so very sorry
    I’m ashamed of people like that who profess to care x

  2. I am saddened to read that justice has not prevailed and that an apathetic service unbothered by the quality of its service goes on and is permitted to exist. Banning people from bathing is not the issue supervision and quality of staff is. Employees application of the code of practice for social workers and care plans is also the issue, This is serial mismanagement on an epic scale yet the CQC and police show apathy towards sorting it out its as if your boy had no value……….yet if we as parents did the same standard of care we would feel the full brunt of Social services weight and have other children in our care removed, how is this fair and equitable and where is the accountability? Its hard to draw a line under circumstances that lead to a life being lost so needlessly on a positive note he had good life when in your care and you did your best its a crime that others get paid for doing their worst……………….<3


    There probably would have been a prosecution for gross negligence, had LB died in his bath at home.

    Particularly, if there were a push to publicise, the abuse of the vulnerable at home, to enable LA intervention, and their removal to state ‘care’ for £4000 per week private profit, which is at present the only policy of most adult services.

    Families, are being made deliberately too accountable, whilst the state, cannot be made accountable, and therefore, will continue to be negligent, and abuse, as the system is geared towards efficiency for maximum profit, for investors and/or executives.

  4. I’m crying tears of anger, sadness and disappointment for you, your family and for LB who deserved so much more than this.

    I am hopeful for a future where our most vulnerable in the community are loved, protected and accepted – and made a priority by government. It seems a simple enough request and yet here we are in 2015 …

  5. So very sorry to hear this news, sorry and sick at the smugness of bevan brittan having `earned their money `throughout the last 18 months. Don`t get that it was a preventable death yet no prosecution.? Is there a chance of a private prosecution or would taking it to a higher level help (have no idea how or where but someone would know) Sending love and hugs. xx

  6. It is incredibly unbelievable, I cannot imagine the frustration you must be feeling. I do not know how these cowardly people can wipe their hands of any responsibility and live with themselves.
    I am so sorry for you all.

  7. I am so so so sorry, Sara. I know my feelings are nothing compared to what you’ve been through but I want you to know that there will always be a little part of my heart and soul that carries around the sadness, rage, and injustice involved in this. You, your family, and Connor have my solidarity, and my commitment to work hard so that this type of injustice doesn’t continue.

  8. My thoughts are with you and your family Sara. The ultra stable, unresponsiveness of these overpaid, incompetent and uncaring bureaucrats sucks the very marrow from my bones. I am so so sorry.

  9. Sad and angry. Just where do you go from here? How in hells name can it not be gross negligence to leave someone with epilepsy unsupervised in a bath. How can the findings of a preventable death not justify a prosecution.
    Finolamoss comment above is spot on – there is no way caring parents would have escaped prosecution ….
    Love and hugs xxxx

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  11. The NHS. OCC and even the police have failed you and your family. Sloven knew that their services in that unit were unfit for purpose but they did not care enough for the people they were purporting to help to do anything about it Not a priority. People with LD are not a priority. Who cares. People with LD are not able to fight their own corner. They make unreliable witnesses (so they lead us to believe), and they make perfect scapegoats when things do not go to plan. Even now they hope to turn this heart breaking tragedy into a money making opportunity when they sell it. What absolute evil bastards.


    • But the nub is, why is our government, and parliament, allowing this to happen.

      And why are UK citizens allowing it to happen.

      And why are all LD charities ie NAS, MENCAP, SCOPE etc, allowing it to happen.

      We know the answer to first and last, as they benefit from it

      Why are the courts and lawyers allowing it to happen ?

      Because there is no separation of powers between the judiciary, executive and parliament, so no democracy , just an unstoppable cabal.

      The first step would be acknowledging all this, and stop pretending that the systems will change, without radical action ie legal actions brought by families either in person or we need trustworthy lawyers or at least localise adice via internet, Facebook sites set up, and blogs taken out to reveal what is really happening.

      Which is, the courts are acting illegally, and, all agencies are acting in unison, with workers, who must comply, or lose their jobs, to perpetuate a system, that allows venture capitalists like the Ontario Pension fund, that owns Autism Care, to make healthy pensions for Canadians, out of the abuse of are MOST vulnerable.

      Similarly with st Andrews Heathcare trust charity and its bosses 675,000 salary per year when 4 of his service users died.

      For Connor, a start would be a negligence action.

      • Finola I,m still here trying to get legal action of any sort against the LA,etc. 9 years on. At the moment I am seeking a judicial review re. continuing health care. Impossible without a lawyer, because as soon as I appear in Court as a litigant in person, Mr Justice Charles shoots me down Even when I am not in Court. If we look at the reality, “they” will always win, and we can only go down fighting. Corruption rules supreme

        • But, as a ‘group’ we are not fighting, nor, even often individually, as most do not open blogs, write to MPs, or take out petitions, or complaints to LA.

          I know this is not easy, if you are subject to MCA secrecy orders, and/or terrified it may make access to your loved ones harder.

          But, if we all, put up the tenacious, determined fight, that you have over the years, and were all informed of what was happening, and tried to expose it, wherever possible, it would be far more difficult to maintain the present system.

          It can be done by individuals anonymously.

          Exposure, on social media, of what is going on etc, might force improvement, and can definitely stop disinformation, and allow real information, which can only make it harder for the system to continue in its present form.

          It will also allow people to be tricked and hoodwinked, and so become more embroiled in that system .

  12. It is so shocking to register the closure, fear rising for the domino effect we experienced once a decision had been made in the first investigation to end. How easily the lame ” we broadly agree with X investigation ” gets stamped over all remaining. lives are lost , beautiful people gone forever and ” regrettable decisions , and ” no real prospect of a proven case ” is all that is laid before you. So sorry Sara and family.

  13. I am so very sorry. Can any Police officer define what WOULD have been seen as ground? Not to attack them. It would just be good to know what the definition of gross negligence is and what it would look like in practical terms. Ditto corporate manslaughter.Strangling with bare hands?

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