Skip to Content

Care Principles – Peers Support for Specialist Facilities for Women with Learning Disabilities

A survey of the ComRes Peers Panel on behalf of Care Principles published 15th September 2011.

Date Published: 15 Sep 2011

Categories: Health | Policy Makers | Public Sector | Social | UK



A survey of members of the House of Lords has shown that 62 percent recognise the need for dedicated facilities for women with learning disabilities and related complex needs.

Conducted by ComRes on behalf of Care Principles, a specialist provider of services for adults with learning disabilities, personality disorders, autistic spectrum disorders and mental health needs, the survey gathered Peers’ opinions on elements of the Health and Social Care Bill and the requirement of vulnerable adults and offenders with learning disabilities, particularly women.

Dr. Claire Royston, medical director of Care Principles has already advocated the need for specific facilities for women with learning disabilities and related complex needs in her submission to the Health and Social Care Bill Committee. Currently there are limited services dedicated to addressing the needs of women with learning disabilities but there is a demand for them.

Further supporting Dr. Royston’s views, 80 percent of those questioned believe that specialist psychiatrists should assess offenders with learning disabilities on their admission to prison, to determine if their needs would be better met with specialist treatment in a specialist facility. Speaking about the ComRes survey results and its implications for women offenders she commented:

“Research shows that mental health problems are more common in women’s prisons than male prisons yet there are few provisions in place to address this. I’m confident that most of the women in prison have not been assessed to determine if specialist treatment in a community setting would be more appropriate – timely psychiatric assessments are essential if these women are to be treated effectively. It’s encouraging to see so many Peers supporting the view that more needs to be done to help these women, through the provision of gender specific facilities which can cater for their complex needs before they enter the justice system.”

The views expressed by Dr. Royston and supported by the members of the House of Lords that participated in the survey, are similar to those of the Women’s Justice Taskforce which recently produced a report entitled ‘Reforming Women’s Justice’. The report identified that women’s prisons are not necessarily the most appropriate place for mental health assessment and treatment of certain offenders, a viewpoint also put forward by the Corston Report, a review conducted by Baroness Jean Corston that looked at women with particular vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system.

Dr. Royston continued: “With the Government’s proposal of reforms to the provision of care under the Health and Social Care Bill, it is imperative that this vulnerable group are not forgotten and that they receive the care and treatment they require. As identified in the Corston Report small, multi-functional custodial centres could prove more effective  in preventing reoffending by women than custodial sentences. However there is a shortage of women only facilities. With this in mind we are looking at establishing specific women’s units which will address this growing need.”

- Ends -

About Care Principles
Care Principles is part of the Huntercombe Group, the specialist services division of Four Seasons Health Care. It provides specialist assessment, treatment and rehabilitation for adults with challenging behaviour associated with learning disabilities, personality disorders and autistic spectrum disorders.

Care Principles was founded in 1997 by a dedicated group of professionals with extensive specialist experience of providing services for people with learning disabilities in both the NHS and the independent health care sector. The organisation now has over 450 beds and employs more than 1500 staff across the Group, providing assessment, treatment, care and rehabilitation for people with a range of challenging behaviour and complex needs.

Media enquiries for Care Principles: PIELLE Consulting on 020 7963 7417 – Jonquil Simons (07860 466959 out of hours) or Yvette Hodgson on 0207 963 7417 or email [email protected]


View Press and Polls

Read More