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Risk assessments reducing disabled to 'second class citizens'

12th August 2005

Misguided assessments of risk are reducing disabled people to 'second-class citizens' and limiting their choices to participate fully in society, according to Disability Rights Commission (DRC) chairman Bert Massie.

Mr Massie was responding to the recent case where a couple were ordered by the High Court to place their children in care because they were deemed 'too slow' to parent them by their local social services department.

"People may be forgiven for thinking that risk cases like these are the exception, but in our experience they are very much the rule," Mr Massie said.

"Throughout our lives risk is being used as the excuse to deny disabled people the opportunities to contribute and participate fully in society. In this case the experience of family life seems to have been denied.

"But in other cases we know of it is the right to remain in work, to live independently, or even to travel that are being constantly curtailed," he explained.

Mr Massie said a fear of litigation is replacing sensible action and the end result is disabled people being denied the chance to take decisions and weigh up risks for themselves every day.

The chairman is now calling for a 'full and frank debate' about the consequences that risk assessments were having on disabled people's lives.