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Exonerated care staff on verge of work return

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

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SOME of the care staff exonerated after an investigation into abuse allegations at Penzance's John Daniel Centre for vulnerable adults are on the verge of returning to work after more than a year, the Cornishman understands.

Five staff are still waiting to hear if they will face criminal charges over the abuse allegations at the Heamoor centre that came to light at the end of 2011.

But ten more were cleared by a Cornwall Council internal investigation in October 2012.

At that time Cornwall Council, which runs the centre, said those cleared were "returning to work".

But since then discussions have been taking place into each staff member's individual situation between the council, the staff and their union representatives, the council said on Tuesday.

The Cornishman understands at least one has become ill while suspended for nearly a year, others are close to retirement, and some have expressed anxiety about going straight back to full-time work in a charged environment.

It is believed at least one staff member has asked to be found work elsewhere, although neither the council nor unions were prepared to discuss individual situations.

Bernard Allen, Cornwall Council spokesman for adult care and support, said: "We are in discussion with all staff concerned and their representatives."

Unison representative Stuart Roden, who represents some of the staff involved, said discussions about the right solution for each individual were under way.

He said: "We want to resolve this as quickly as we can and where people are returning to work we want to resolve their future employment status.

"It's not good for people to be away from work for so long. We want to move this forward as quickly as possible while providing the best service for the users."

The five staff arrested in April 2012 and bailed by police "on suspicion of wilful neglect" as a result of a multiagency investigation are still waiting to hear what will happen to them.

Having answered police bail again in December they were rebailed until January 25 when they expect to hear whether the Crown Prosecution Service will take the matter further.

For months following the suspensions Cornwall Council refused to confirm how many staff had been suspended and have never released any details about the allegations.

Initially Devon and Cornwall Police said no complaints had been made to them but in February they announced they had begun a criminal investigation. The five on bail are a 21-year-old man from St Ives, a 58-year-old man from Penzance, a 22-year-old woman from Helston and a man and woman, both 57, from Hayle.

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