Staff suspended in abuse probe

A number of staff at a Derry care unit have been suspended as police investigate allegations of the “mistreatment” of vulnerable young adults.

Local health chiefs have revealed that the allegations, made anonymously, centre on Ralphs Close at Gransha Park. It was officially opened earlier this year by the North’s Health Minister, Edwin Poots.

The unit offers support and care for young adults with learning disabilities.

Last night police confirmed they had received reports of allegations regarding “mistreatment” of residents at Ralphs Close.

A police spokesperson said: “An investigation into these allegations is currently ongoing. There are no further details at this time.”

At a press briefing yesterday afternoon, Trevor Miller, the Western Trust’s Director for Adult Mental Health and Disability, revealed that a number of staff had been suspended as a “precautionary” measure as part of the investigation.

He also made a public appeal for anyone with any information to come forward to either the police or the Trust.

“We genuinely want to get to the bottom of these allegations,” he said.

“We want to try to obtain as much information as we can. We treat all allegations very seriously. If anyone has any information, then they should come forward.”

Mr. Miller said that many of the Ralphs Close residents displayed “challenging behaviour” and would be “unable to verbally indicate if something was wrong”.

He said the investigation would be “robust” and insisted that the “ongoing safety and wellbeing” of the residents of Ralphs Close was “paramount”.

The £3.3 million Ralphs Close scheme provides purpose-built accommodation for 16 Western Health Trust patients who previously lived in Mourne House, Stradreagh Hospital.

In March, Edwin Poots visited the unit and hailed it as an “excellent example of what can be achieved when we work together for the good of our clients.”