Read Time:4 Minute, 50 Second


[

A Scientology-linked addiction charity accused of subjecting vulnerable people to psychological drills that left them “broken” and “traumatised” is being investigated by Britain’s ­charities watchdog.

The Charity Commission said it had opened a regulatory compliance case into Narconon UK, which claims to help people become “drug-free for good” and had been promoted on the NHS website, to examine concerns about its “governance, administration and management”.

The case comes after an Observer investigation last month raised questions about practices at a facility run by Narconon in Heathfield, East Sussex. Former participants in the programme were put through intense exercises likened to a form of “obedience training”.

Ex-patients and staff described how people were expected to follow repetitive commands, such as pointing at objects, sitting perfectly still or answering the same question “over and over again” for hours at a time. Some described suffering extreme reactions to the exercises, such as panicking, zoning out or going into trance-like states.

One person said it felt like their mind had been “shattered into a million pieces”. Another said: “You’re helpless there, and the only way out is blind submission or lose thousands of pounds. If I’d have had any concept of what the programme actually was, I would never have signed up.”

Narconon UK said the allegations were “inaccurate, misleading and thoroughly distorted”, adding that it was a “world leader” in rehabilitation and had saved thousands of lives. It said its approach required discipline and was “mentally strenuous” but denied it was harmful. Narconon’s UK manager, Sheila Maclean, said the drills were designed to teach the participants self-determinism, self-control and discipline, and to help them break away from destructive habits. “These phases are not easy, but our feedback has been hugely positive and the results speak for themselves,” she said.

The Charity Commission said its case would look at safeguarding concerns that had been raised in the media, as well as examining the “governance, administration and management of the charity, including the submission of its annual accounts and returns”.

A case is not a finding of wrongdoing, but may lead to further investigations or a statutory inquiry. In cases where malpractice or misconduct is identified, the watchdog can take enforcement action.

A spokesperson said: “We are engaging with the trustees. A charity should be a safe and trusted environment. As regulator, we are clear that keeping people safe should be a priority for all charities.”

Launched in the US in 1966, Narconon is billed as a “holistic, non-medical and secular” approach to rehabilitation. Its residential programme lasts three to four months, costs about £15,000 and is based on the belief of L Ron Hubbard, Scientology’s founder, that toxic drug residues lodge in the body and create a “biochemical ­barrier to spiritual wellbeing”.

To remove them, patients – referred to by Narconon as students – complete a “purification rundown” involving five-hour sauna sessions, treadmill exercise and high doses of vitamins. They later do psychological exercises and a “life skills” course. The goal is to achieve a “clear body” and a “clear mind”.

The Observer spoke to nine people with knowledge of Narconon’s UK operations, including ex-participants and staff, who described how people were put through psychological drills lasting up to five hours a day for several weeks.

Witnesses described how some participants became paranoid, anxious or acutely distressed. “I saw people yelling and screaming. Physical outbursts. Some people would laugh, others would cry,” one person said.

Others allegedly went into hypnotic or trance-like states, “spacing out” or experiencing “depersonalisation”.

skip past newsletter promotion

The Observer’s investigation also revealed allegations that some ­participants were misled about the extent of the programme’s links to wider Scientology, and raised ­questions about how it had been operating without oversight from England’s healthcare watchdog.

A freedom of information request found that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) received 19 complaints about Narconon but did not look into 14 of these because it considered them outside its remit.

The Narconon programme has never been assessed by the CQC to ensure it is safe. It said this was because, while it oversees substance misuse services in England, Narconon’s programme was “alternative” and therefore out of its scope.

The Department of Health and Social Care said it was now in “active discussion” with the (CQC) “about the status of this centre and the next steps in terms of regulation”. It added: “The CQC is reviewing the provider, has visited the facility and will be writing to them to advise of its decision.”

The CQC has since suspended a prior “good” rating for the facility, which related to the provision of personal care, and added a note saying it is currently dormant. “The only part of the service provided at this location registered and regulated by CQC is the accommodation with personal care. We do not regulate the rehabilitation programme provided or judge its effectiveness,” it says.

Narconon said it was “not presently providing a service which falls within the remit of the CQC”. It denied downplaying its connection to Scientology, saying it was open about its link to Hubbard, whose work, it said, had a “positive secular application”.

“Even the best-run services have their critics,” said Maclean.

#Scientologylinked #rehab #centre #investigated #charities #watchdog

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion | Hold Your Horses, Health Workers With COVID Still Must Isolate Previous post Opinion | Hold Your Horses, Health Workers With COVID Still Must Isolate
Fani Willis’ ‘sordid scandal’ could make finding a jury in the Trump case ‘much harder’: experts Next post Fani Willis’ ‘sordid scandal’ could make finding a jury in the Trump case ‘much harder’: experts