20/03/2012 Taro Naw


20/03/2012

Materion cyfoes o Gymru a'r byd. Current affairs from Wales and the world.


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This woman made a complaint of alleged abuse at a centre...

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..for people with severe learning disabilities in Carmarthen.

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She says the local council hasn't dealt with the complaint...

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..and she's been punished for raising it.

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I've lost out financially, but what worries me most...

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..is the effect this has had these people.

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Tonight, on Taro 9, does the whistleblower pay the price?

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Subtitles

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Subtitles

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Llansteffan, Carmarthenshire.

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Throughout her life, Delyth Jenkins has lived and worked in the area.

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From 1994 on, she was an administrative officer...

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..at a day centre in Johnstown, run by Carmarthenshire Council.

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Adults with severe learning difficulties attend the centre...

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..and one individual, Sally, not her real name, stays in her mind.

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I'd say she was seven-and-a-half, eight stone at the most.

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She can't talk.

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She gets frustrated when people don't understand what she wants.

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I regularly felt that people didn't have time for her.

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We can't show you Sally's picture...

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..as her family don't want her to be recognised.

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But in June 2005, something happened at this centre behind me...

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..that would change the lives of Sally, her family...

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..and Delyth Jenkins forever.

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I was in the office and I heard the door opening.

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I didn't hear anything afterwards, so I knew someone had gone out.

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Then Delyth Jenkins looked out of her window.

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I could see Sally out in the car park.

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People who attended the centre weren't supposed to go out...

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..unless accompanied by a member of staff.

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Delyth Jenkins was worried that Sally was outside alone.

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I went out and as soon as she saw me, she sat down.

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I tried, for a few seconds, to coax her back in..

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..but she refused to move.

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Guidelines say care has to be taken in attempting to move or carry...

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..people with severe learning disabilities...

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..Delyth decided to call for the help of two colleagues.

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Without warning, Officer B held her under her arms...

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..and yanked her up.

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While she did that, the other witness tried to tell her...

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..to leave her alone, that she'd get up in her own time.

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The way she was lifted went completely against her care plan.

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Then she was pushed into the centre...

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..and then pushed into the toilet.

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Delyth Jenkins didn't witness what happened inside the toilet...

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..but her colleague who followed Sally and Officer B into the toilet..

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..alleged she had heard Officer B hitting Sally.

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The other worker went after them and then she heard a slap.

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The incident was among a number things that worried Delyth Jenkins...

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..about the way vulnerable people were treated at the centre.

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She was worried Officer B wasn't qualified to work with...

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..people with severe learning disabilities.

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In 2005, she took her complaints to her managers in the council.

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A lot of good people work in these types of centres...

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..but it's been the easiest job to get into...

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..and you're working with the most vulnerable people in society.

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It's important to ensure they do the checks...

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..and they employ the right people because it's not for everyone.

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Sally's mother doesn't want to be seen on camera...

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..as she doesn't want her daughter to be recognized.

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She feels indebted to Delyth Jenkins for raising her concerns...

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..about the way her daughter was treated.

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I'd like to thank her on behalf of myself and my husband...

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..but mostly for my daughter and the vulnerable people...

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..that are in the centre that she spoke up for and protected.

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According to the mother, Delyth Jenkins was punished for her bravery.

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I think she was very badly treated, Mrs Jenkins...

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..for the way she supported vulnerable people in the centre.

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When a complaint of abuse is made and an investigation is held...

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..the accused are usually suspended from work.

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Despite Delyth Jenkins's complaint, Officer B...

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..who denied hitting Sally, remained in post for five months.

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She didn't feel her complaint was adequately addressed by the council.

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They didn't give any feedback at all.

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The policy is that when someone makes a compliant...

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..they should reply within 10 days and give regular feedback.

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But they didn't listen. They just didn't take is seriously.

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In June 2006, 10 months after Delyth Jenkins...

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..made an official complaint to the county council...

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..she met with the council official who was handling the complaint.

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What the official said to her was of great concern.

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I told her what was going on.

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She said, "We know what's going on within the department....

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"..but the glass is too thick above."

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She said my complaints went nowhere.

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What did you think she was trying to tell you?

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That someone was stopping things.

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In July 2006, Delyth Jenkins decided to take her complaint...

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..to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

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Within two days, she received a reply...

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..saying they would look into her complaints.

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On occasion, the Ombudsman deals with complaints from 'whistleblowers'...

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..people like Delyth Jenkins...

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..who draw attention to workplace maladministration.

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We went to Middlesex University to meet Professor David Lewis...

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..one of Britain's top experts on whistleblowing.

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The academic says it takes great bravery for individuals...

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..to voice their concerns if they see maladministration in their workplace.

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If they do face problems...

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..it's likely to be that they're not believed, that they're ignored...

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..that they're seen as trouble-makers, they're ostracised.

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So it can have an extremely negative effect.

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Delyth Jenkins felt that some were trying to make things hard for her...

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..and making her life miserable.

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After taking her complaint to the Ombudsman...

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..she says she started receiving sinister phone calls.

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TELEPHONE

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They always happened in clusters...

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..at times when the investigation was progressing.

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There were sometimes three or four a day.

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I started to log them and there were more than 100 by the end.

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I'd answer, say good morning and the name of the place...

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..there'd be silence, then they'd hang up.

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It was done in order to harass me and threaten me.

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Delyth Jenkins logged the calls from Summer 2006 to September 2009.

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She answered most at her office but she also received calls at home.

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Are you sure that was the intention?

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Perhaps someone was making a mistake or maybe it was a coincidence.

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It always happened when things were progressing to another level...

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..and there were too many.

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Delyth Jenkins took her complaints...

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..to the highest level in the county council.

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In a meeting with the Director of Public Services, Bruce McLernon...

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..she says he promised to deal with her concerns.

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The administrative officer...

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..had also contacted the council's Chief Executive, Mark James.

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I wrote to him in July 2006, outlining all the complaints.

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It seems that he passed it on to his monitoring officer and...

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..I heard nothing further about it.

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Although senior council official were aware of the complaints...

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..Carmarthenshire County Council's department of Social Services...

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..had not informed Sally's family of the alleged incident.

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More than a year passed before the mother heard of...

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..an investigation into allegations that her daughter had been abused...

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..which in council care.

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It was by accident that we found out about it, a year after.

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I didn't realise that they were investigating allegations of abuse.

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Because of this, we continued to send my daughter there.

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She was then abused by a second member of staff.

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In July 2006, witnesses claim to have seen Sally...

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..being hit across the head by another member of staff...

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..who resigned soon afterwards.

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And Sally didn't only suffer physical abuse...

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..according to Delyth Jenkins.

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She also suffered psychological bullying.

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Sally had refused to eat her lunch, and she was told...

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..she couldn't have her pudding because "she's got to learn".

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The following day, she wasn't given pudding again...

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..because it would look as if they were giving in to her.

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Officer B's disciplinary hearing was held in May 2007...

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..almost two years after the first alleged incident of abuse.

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Although she was found guilty of misconduct...

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..Carmarthenshire County Council decided...

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..there wasn't enough evidence to prove that she'd hit Sally.

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Although Officer B no longer works at the Johnstown Day Centre...

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..she still has an administrative position...

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..in the care services department.

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During the ombudsman's investigation...

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..Delyth Jenkins heard rumours that efforts were being made...

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..to move her to a different job within the council.

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By summer 2009, four years after the original complaint...

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..the strain was affecting her health.

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I call it psychological abuse. They just tried to wear me down.

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I had chest pains.

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My blood pressure had gone through the roof.

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I didn't want to go to work.

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I kept concentrating on this ombudsman's report.

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I kept thinking...

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..I have to carry on to make things better for these people.

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After the break, we'll hear the outcome of that investigation.

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Delyth Jenkins made a complaint, claiming a disabled girl...

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..was being abused by staff at a centre for adults...

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..with learning difficulties in Carmarthen.

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After failing to get answers from Carmarthen County Council...

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..she took her complaint to the ombudsman.

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She also turned to someone else who'd had a similar experience.

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Eileen Chubb lost her job after voicing concerns...

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..about mistreatment at a nursing home for the elderly in England.

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She saw similarities between the cases.

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It's the level of failure that's scandalous.

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It's not just one level of management...

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..it's all the way through the council.

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In September 2009, three years after the investigation started...

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..the ombudsman's office published a report...

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..on Delyth Jenkins's complaints.

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The conclusions were damning.

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Carmarthenshire County Council officials were severely criticised.

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This complaint was one of the most serious we've received.

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Very often, we see isolated cases...

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..with regard to the complaints we receive.

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We were concerned about this case because we were aware...

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..that similar cases were happening within the centre.

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So it wasn't only this individual who was in danger.

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During this time...

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..other individuals who attended the centre were also in danger.

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The ombudsman decided that Delyth Jenkins was right to complain.

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The main issue was a lack of management...

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..within the learning disability department.

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There wasn't a culture of putting the individual...

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..at the heart of the service.

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There were also obvious failures in the way they investigated...

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..the complaints they received about the service in that centre.

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Sally's family welcomed the report...

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..but thinking about her daughter's experiences...

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..was heartbreaking for her mother.

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It was heartbreaking. It still is now.

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You know, it's very hard to send her to people who are abusing her.

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You're hoping that they're taking care of her.

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For charities that work with people with learning difficulties...

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..Sally's experience was a cause for great concern.

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According to Rhodri Davies from Mencap, it raises questions...

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..about the methods used to communicate with people...

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..with serious learning disabilities and who can't speak...

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..to find out about possible cases of abuse.

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It's important for providers to consider working...

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..with people who are experts in this field.

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Maybe people who could work with individuals like Sally...

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..by using special techniques like using pictures or symbols...

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..in order to work with them, and get that feedback.

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Unlike residential homes...

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..day centres like the one Sally attended...

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..are not regulated by independent agencies.

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Delyth Jenkins believes the Government...

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..should intervene to change that.

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Carmarthenshire County Council says it has responded...

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..to what the ombudsman raised and that it has changed the way...

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..it deals with complaints like those you made.

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One of the recommendations in the ombudsman's report...

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..was that it would alert the Welsh Government about the fact...

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..that these people are vulnerable.

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The report said that it should be regulated from outside.

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But it seems to me that that hasn't happened.

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The ombudsman's report made several recommendations.

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But what concerned Delyth Jenkins was that most of the officials...

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..who were criticised about the way they dealt with the complaint...

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..were still in post.

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After the report was published, Delyth Jenkins met...

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..the county council's chief executive, Mark James.

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As soon as I went in, I knew he was angry.

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When I started asking what was going to be done...

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..as a result of the report, he shouted at me...

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..and what he said was, "Back off a bit."

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I felt he was quite threatening.

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No complaints have been made against the current staff.

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Only one staff member who worked there...

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..when the alleged abuse occurred still works there.

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But we wanted to know how many of the people who were criticised...

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..by the ombudsman still work for the authority.

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The council didn't want to discuss the staff...

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..who were mentioned in the 2009 report.

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The council told us this matter was settled by both sides...

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..several months ago.

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The council says changes have been made to the care service...

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..since the ombudsman's report into Delyth Jenkins' complaints...

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..and the Care Standards Inspectorate has acknowledged that.

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You can't draw a line through things if they're inconvenient.

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As long as those people are employed by the council...

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..the culture is exactly the same now as it was then.

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Are you worried it could happen again?

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Yes. I'm seriously concerned it could happen again.

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It's a scandalous failure.

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According to Sally's mother, her daughter's problems...

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..have worsened following her experiences in the day centre.

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I think they let us down badly.

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They failed to protect my daughter on a number of occasions...

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..before and after the abuse was reported.

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Seven years on, she's still suffering from the effects...

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..of what happened during that time.

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She suffers medical and psychological problems...

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..that will probably be with her for years.

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The mother's concern is that Delyth Jenkins' experience...

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..will deter staff from taking complaints to the authorities...

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..if they believe disabled people are being abused.

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Staff will think twice before reporting any abuse they see...

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..because they're frightened of losing their jobs.

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Professor David Lewis is an expert in occupational law...

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..and is used to cases like this.

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Carmarthenshire County Council had a policy about raising concerns...

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..about care standards when Delyth Jenkins made her complaint.

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But according to the academic, what's on paper...

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..and what happens in reality can be very different.

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I've had a look at the current procedure.

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I'm not sure it's the best, but it's a question of credibility.

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People have to have confidence...

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..that you're going to abide by the procedure.

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The Jenkins case suggests this procedure isn't anything other...

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..than a piece of paper and that they won't suffer retaliation.

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So this is a great difficulty for the authority.

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The county council says it has put solid processes in place...

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..following the ombudsman's report.

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But does that mean the problems are over?

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We've looked at how the processes and so on have changed...

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..within the council.

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They seem to be solid.

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With regard to culture, that's obviously something...

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..that's more difficult to put in place.

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That's something that may take time to take effect.

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We've been taking to the Care Standards Inspectorate...

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..so that it can, within its own reviews over a period of time...

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..make sure that the situation has improved...

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..and is effective and permanent.

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Delyth Jenkins is pleased that the ombudsman has decided...

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..that the county council failed to investigate her complaint.

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However, she feels more needs to be done...

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..to ensure this doesn't happen again.

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The Government should give the ombudsman more powers.

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If the Government won't deal with the matter, who will?

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In October 2010, Delyth Jenkins left her job with the council.

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She intended to take her former employer to an industrial tribunal.

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But before the hearing last July, she agreed a financial settlement.

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However, she feels she had to leave a job she enjoyed...

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..and claims that the officials who dealt with the complaint...

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..are still in their jobs and some have been promoted.

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They should have lost their jobs for what they did.

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You're talking about the most vulnerable people in society.

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They can't stand up for themselves.

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It's disgraceful, to be honest.

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Taro Naw asked for an interview...

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..with Carmarthenshire County Council's...

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..director of care services, Bruce McLernon.

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However, he refused.

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The chief executive, Mark James, also refused to be interviewed.

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In a statement, Carmarthenshire County Council told Taro 9...

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'..that the authority is disappointed by continued efforts...

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'..to bring this matter to the public's attention...

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'..five or six years after the events...

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'..suggesting, as it were, that that situation remains unchanged.

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'At the time, the criticism, which could be justified...

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'..of the failure of protective processes...

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'..was taken very seriously and the authority...

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'..has taken all the appropriate steps to ensure...

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'..that such failures won't be repeated.'

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The council added that they work with parents, carers...

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..spokesgroups and managers to continually develop their services.

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But according to an international expert on such cases...

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..there was serious misadministration in Delyth Jenkins's case...

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..and the Welsh Government needs to act.

0:22:050:22:08

Given the ombudsman was involved...

0:22:080:22:11

..and made a finding of serious maladministration...

0:22:110:22:13

..I would have thought the politicians should say...

0:22:130:22:16

.."This isn't good enough. It's not up to scratch.

0:22:160:22:19

"This is an embarrassment, it's sending out the wrong message.

0:22:190:22:22

"We need to do something about it."

0:22:220:22:24

Another who suffered after raising concerns about care services...

0:22:240:22:30

..is calling on the Welsh Government to hold a full inquiry...

0:22:300:22:34

..into Delyth Jenkins's case.

0:22:340:22:35

We need to look at this in detail and learn lessons from this case.

0:22:350:22:39

This could apply to any council.

0:22:390:22:42

I think nationally and locally, it needs to be looked at in detail.

0:22:420:22:46

There needs to be an official inquiry into this case.

0:22:460:22:50

We requested an interview...

0:22:510:22:53

..with the Government's Deputy Health Minister, Gwenda Thomas.

0:22:530:22:56

Our request was refused.

0:22:560:22:58

The Government says it can't discuss individual cases.

0:22:580:23:01

A spokesperson added that the Government understood...

0:23:010:23:04

..that Carmarthenshire County Council was responding to the report...

0:23:040:23:07

..and it would be inappropriate to comment further.

0:23:070:23:10

Despite leaving a good job and pension scheme...

0:23:120:23:15

..Delyth Jenkins is content that she has done the right thing.

0:23:150:23:19

It takes strength and bravery to take a complaint about injustice...

0:23:190:23:23

..to employers, according to one who has been through the experience.

0:23:230:23:26

She's got integrity and she's got courage.

0:23:260:23:29

She'll stand up for what's right and speak out and that's not easy.

0:23:290:23:33

People like Delyth should be treasured.

0:23:340:23:36

They shouldn't be treated as she has been.

0:23:360:23:38

Delyth Jenkins isn't sure she'd have the strength...

0:23:380:23:41

..to make a similar complaint again, but she is convinced she was right...

0:23:410:23:45

..and her only choice was to challenge the council...

0:23:450:23:50

..and draw attention to the suffering of a disabled woman...

0:23:500:23:53

..and couldn't speak for herself.

0:23:530:23:55

This has had an effect on me personally.

0:23:550:23:59

I've lost trust in people, but more than that...

0:23:590:24:03

..I feel deep pity for Sally and her family.

0:24:040:24:09

It's clearly destroyed a part of their lives.

0:24:090:24:13

S4C subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd.

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Materion cyfoes o Gymru a'r byd. Current affairs from Wales and the world.


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