Police meet families to discuss safeguarding investigation

Sussex Police have met with families to discuss a safeguarding investigation involving a West Sussex care company.

JPCT 230413 County Hall North, Horsham, West Sussex. Photo by Derek Martin ENGPPP00320130424214348
JPCT 230413 County Hall North, Horsham, West Sussex. Photo by Derek Martin ENGPPP00320130424214348

Police – as well as representatives from the NHS, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the coroner’s office and West Sussex County Council – met with the families at a private meeting held in County Hall, Horsham on Friday, August 18.

A CQC spokesman confirmed the meeting was in connection with two groups, which are part of the care company Sussex Health Care.

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A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We are working with West Sussex County Council as part of a multi-agency team investigating safeguarding concerns at a number of private care homes in West Sussex run by one company.

“The senior investigating officer (SIO) for the police investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Till Sanderson, invited families of people whose deaths we may be investigating, to a private meeting which took place at County Hall, Horsham, on Friday (18 August).

“It was an opportunity for the SIO to meet family members and explain why the police are involved. Partner agencies, West Sussex County Council, NHS, CQC, attended together with HM Coroner for West Sussex, to answer any questions from the families which they are better placed to answer.

“The police investigation still remains at an early stage and aims to identify whether any criminal offences have been committed, or not. No arrests have been made at this time.”

The CQC, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of care homes in England, is to hold its own investigation.

Debbie Ivanova, deputy chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, said: “We carried out a series of unannounced inspections as a result of information of concern regarding SHC Clemsfold Group Ltd and SHC Rapkyns Group Limited that was passed to us by West Sussex County Council.

“Although CQC inspections are separate to West Sussex County Council’s own review of these safeguarding matters, we do take all information we hold into account - including concerns from family members, professional bodies and other stakeholders.

“In the same way, when we received information from the family about Longfield Manor in October 2016, we also followed up the concerns directly with the provider. At the time we rated the service Good overall but, safety Required Improvement

“In respect of our latest inspections - we will publish full reports, detailing our findings and any enforcement action against the provider, as soon as we can.”