Seven held in Devon care homes abuse probe

Police investigating abuse at Devon care homes have arrested seven people.

Four men and three women were arrested in relation to ill treatment of residents at homes run by the now-defunct Atlas Project Team Ltd.

Two men, 39 and 67, and a woman, 26, from Teignmouth and two men, 38 and 42, and two women, 24 and 28, from Bideford have been bailed until March, said police.

Det Insp Steve White said the investigation "will take many months".

The arrests follow criticism by inspectors of 14 care homes run by Atlas in Berkshire, Devon and Hampshire.

One of the homes, Veilstone near Bideford, Devon, was closed in November 2011 after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said standards needed urgent improvement.

Safety 'priority'

The alarm was raised when inspectors found an unheated and unsuitable "quiet room" in which residents were detained overnight.

Residents were moved out so they "were not at any immediate risk of harm", said the CQC.

Police, the NHS, local authorities and the CQC launched Operation Baddeck to investigate allegations of abuse at Atlas homes.

Other homes criticised by the CQC were in Wokingham, Berkshire; Holsworthy, Devon; Bishopsteignton, Devon; Southend Bradfield, Berkshire; and Ryeish Green, Berkshire.

Det Insp White said that throughout the investigation, "the safety, welfare and protection of vulnerable adults has been and remains the absolute priority of all the organisations involved".

He said: "Due to the nature of the enquiry and complex needs of the victims, this investigation will take many months.

"Throughout this time, the police will continue to work closely with all agencies involved and the victims and families of those affected will receive ongoing support."

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