Making a Difference - National

Making a Difference highlights the power of news media titles to campaign for positive change. Earlier this week, an online vote was held to determine which local and national campaigns from the past year are the public's favourites.

The winners will be announced on Friday 9 October. Browse the local campaigns here

Making a Difference

Locked Up For Being Autistic

Ian Birrell’s campaigning investigation in the Mail on Sunday into how teenagers and adults with autism and learning disabilities were being incarcerated in abusive conditions exposed a national scandal that has sparked five official inquiries, debates in Parliament, pledges of Ministerial action and television documentaries.

It was inspired by Ian's personal situation as a father of a daughter with profound learning disabilities.

Ian began to probe the systemic abuse after speaking to the father of one teenager with autism, locked in a room on her own and fed through a hatch. Many families are silenced through legal gagging orders to prevent exposure, while private firms make fortunes from cruelty at the expense of the NHS and local authorities.

His work led to instant intervention by the health watchdog, closures of offending institutions and a landmark inquiry.