Big Society, Disability and Civil Society Research

Website for ESRC research project 'Big Society? Disabled People with Learning Disabilities and Civil Society'

Hidden cameras and mystery shoppers


Driving to a meeting this morning, listening to Radio 4, the first item on the 8.30 news bulletin was that the Care Quality Commission is considering putting hidden cameras into care homes for older people and disabled people (

It takes a few moments to sink in: “What?!  Post-Winterbourne View, post – the Solar Centre, that’s your answer?!” 

Yet again the focus is on a few violent, callous individuals, a few evil souls, we will catch them on camera carrying out the abuse and, then, and only then, we will deal with them.  Problem solved. How can this be the solution? The abuse will still happen, people’s lives will still be shattered, and the systemic, structural and wider cultural causes of abuse will remain unreported and unchallenged.

This, to us, is a shocking example of what we see as institutionlised violence of disablism – state tolerance of the abuse of disabled people.

And as I drove back from the meeting and listened to the one o’clock news, things had moved on, the item was not the first on the list in the bulletin, in fact it didn’t feature on the news programme at all…

Follow this link for more from us on the violence of disablism:


2 thoughts on “Hidden cameras and mystery shoppers

  1. I heard the same news. Counterintuitively, rooting out the ‘bad apples’ would have meant that Winterbourne View with it’s segregationist and institutional philosophy would still be open and its residents would not have had the chance to get out into the community, which at least a few have subsequently managed.
    Inspection and hidden cameras can root out the worst abuses, and nobody objects to the worst abusers being brought to justice, but they don’t change a whole disablist and institutional way of thinking. In fact they protect institutions from having to change more fundamentally. You can’t inspect quality into a system. That requires an entirely different vision.

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