Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Care provider fined £300,000 for sex abuse risk.
A care provider has been fined £300,000 for allowing a man in its care with a history of sexual assaults the freedom to prey on vulnerable people.
Hillgreen Care Limited was required to provide round-the-clock supervision of the offending man, named XX for legal reasons, because of his history of sexual abuse allegations.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) brought the case against Hillgreen Care for failing to monitor XX and for failing to protect people in its care, exposing them to the risk of sexual abuse.
District judge Susan Williams, who also awarded the CQC £141,000 in costs, said: “There was a failure to provide appropriate care and a high level of culpability because the risks were well known to the company." She added: “There was a woefully inadequate system of care in place."
Although Hillgreen was subject to insolvency proceedings, Ms Williams, said it should not affect the sentence and that the “fine would serve to mark society’s condemnation of Hillgreen’s failure to protect vulnerable people in its care.”
On 1 November 2015, Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court heard how an autistic man, known for legal reasons as YY, was sexually assaulted by XX at Hillgreen’s care home in Enfield, north London. At the time there were only two care staff on duty to look after six people.
The incident was reported to the police but, because of the alleged victim’s mental capacity and a lack of evidence, no prosecution was brought.
According to chartered clinical psychologist, Dr Neil Sinclair, it should have been apparent to Hillgreen Care Limited that there was an extremely high risk of XX committing sexual offences.
A number of care workers who had worked at the Enfield home in Colne Road also gave evidence, saying they no longer wanted to work there after the incident and that staffing levels were inadequate.
Representing the CQC, Mr Paul Greaney QC, said: “XX is a predatory and opportunistic sex offender and was a risk to both sexes. Numerous allegations involving vulnerable adults and children had been made against XX dating back to his childhood.
“YY plainly needed to be protected from abuse. One only needs to think for a moment about the situation that existed in that care home: a vulnerable man, in an environment in which a predatory sexual offender was largely free to roam, to realise that YY needed protection.”
CQC began the process to cancel the registration of the Colne Road service in February 2016. The registration of Hillgreen Care Ltd was cancelled altogether in September 2017.
The CQC's chief inspector of adult social care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said afterwards: "As the judge has made clear, Hillgreen Care Limited utterly failed in its duty of care for the people it was responsible for supporting.
“YY should never have been exposed to the potential of sexual abuse from XX and the impact on him and his family is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with them today.
"It has taken a long time to bring this prosecution to a conclusion but the outcome proves that it has been worth the effort and dedication of CQC's inspection and legal teams.
“Providers should be clear that if people are exposed to harm through their failure of care, we will take every step we can to hold them to account."