Published 2 March 2017

Under Lock and Key – Time for a real change

ARC England, the leading umbrella body representing service providers in the learning disability sector, has responded to the Channel 4 programme “Under Lock and Key”, screened on Wednesday 1st March at 10.00pm, regarding hospital care for people with learning disabilities and complex needs.

Lisa Lenton, Director of ARC England says:

“Yet again we are seeing the reality of the damaging impact of caring for someone with Learning Disabilities, Autism, Mental Health conditions and complex needs in this type of setting; a hospital is not a home. The programme strongly demonstrated how personalised support can transform the lives of the most vulnerable people in our society. It has been over 5 years since the abhorrent abuse of people at Winterbourne View was exposed, and the Government response to that scandal, Transforming Care, has failed to deliver the changes that are vital. The current funding situation makes offering the right support for people increasingly difficult as we see providers leaving the market. This lack of stability and sustainability will mean less provision will be available to support people with learning disabilities outside of hospital settings. The Government needs to take action now and review funding arrangements to help providers with rising costs and to fulfil its commitment to transform care for people with Learning Disabilities and complex needs.”

Kate Allen, ARC England Chair and Chief Executive of The Kingwood Trust says:

“Last night’s Dispatches program reinforced that a hospital environment is rarely the right place for someone with autism and complex needs. It was sad and upsetting to see people with autism misunderstood and consequently inadequately and inappropriately supported. The Governmental Transforming Care Programme is heading in the right direction but it needs impetus and commitment to make it happen. Complex Adult Social Care needs investment at a time when it is facing yet more cuts and challenges. People with autism and their families have the right to expect personalised support to be provided that more than meets that person’s needs, it should enable them to exceed what they ever thought was possible to achieve.”

Notes to editors:

1)  The Association for Real Change is a membership organisation supporting anyone who is involved in the planning or delivery of support or services for people with a learning disability. Our work also benefits people with other support needs such as autism, mental health issues, long-term health problems and physical and sensory disabilities, and we are therefore committed to sharing our learning and experience across all sectors.

2)  For enquiries related to this release, please contact Lisa Lenton on email  or visit


If you have been affected by what you saw or are worried about somebody you know in an inpatient residential placement, a list of available support and advice can be found here on the Challenging Behaviour Foundation website.

A petition ‘Enough is enough, @NHSEngland. Stop keeping people #UnderLockAndKey in institutions’ to ask NHS England CEO, Simon Stevens, to stop sending people with a learning disability to large inpatient units can be accessed here.