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Petition launched on autistic man's care

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/07/2016

Ashley Peacock has been kept in seclusion for more than five years © Ashley Peacock has been kept in seclusion for more than five years The family of an autistic man held in seclusion are petitioning for his release into the community.

Ashley Peacock, 38, has been kept in isolation in Tawhirimatea secure mental health unit in Porirua for more than five years.

In the past two years he has only been allowed outside for an average of 90 minutes a day, his family say.

In February, inspectors for the ombudsman visited the unit run by Capital & Coast DHB and a report by Ombudsman Judge Peter Boshier found Mr Peacock's living situation to be "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for the purpose of the Convention Against Torture".

He said a more appropriate facility needed to be found for Mr Peacock, as twice recommended previously.

The DHB has said seclusion is used as a last resort.

The autistic man's family launched their petition on on Sunday, and so far it's attracted 1250 signatures, towards a target of 1500.

It calls on Health Minister Johnathan Coleman to intervene and relocate Mr Peacock to an supported community setting as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Herald reports its investigation has found Mr Peacock's case is one of four cases that could be considered cruel or inhuman in hospitals around the country.

Analysis of more than 60 Crimes of Torture reports revealed a Palmerston North facility used excessive restraints on patients, and a West Auckland mental health unit restricted patient access to fresh air.

The ombudsmen's office told the Herald it was considering a special investigation.

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