NO charges were brought against a care home for autistic people who suffered physical and mental abuse because of a lack of evidence, the police said.

A group of male carers at Mendip House, in Brent Knoll, Highbridge, forced residents to eat raw onion, pay for staff lunches and crawl on all fours, a report has revealed.

Residents regularly suffered physical and mental abuse including being pushed, slapped and laughed at.

Other examples were staff “putting a ribbon around resident’s neck and riding him like a horse” and throwing one vulnerable male into a swimming pool.

Residents had cake thrown at them, had crayons put in their drinks and made to eat chillis by staff who also dealt drugs on the premises.

Superintendent Mike Prior, of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said that despite a police investigation, no charges were pressed.

He said: “We carried out a thorough investigation as a result of concerns raised to the Care Quality Commission.

''The scope extended across agencies but we worked very closely in particular with the CQC.

“As the investigation progressed we encountered some evidential challenges due to the vulnerability of the residents.

"Allegations of abuse against vulnerable people are always considered against the highest public interest threshold, but on this occasion the evidential test required to bring criminal charges was not met.

“Whist some of the activities could have been criminal if proven, others related more to poor leadership and working practices.

"In light of the lack of evidence we agreed with the CQC that the best route for the victims was via the powers available to the regulator, involving closure of the home and dismissal of staff.”

READ: SHOCKING ABUSE: Somerset care home staff made residents crawl, threw food at them and made them pay for staff meals

The National Autistic Society (NAS) apologised to the residents of Mendip House.

In a statement in the report, it apologised to “all of the individuals concerned at Mendip House for our poor standards and practice which led to their abuse.”

It added: “We take responsibility for the failure of our managers and the failure in this case, of our systems to spot those failures.

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:

“Our responses were slow and lacked coordination. Quality monitoring visits weren’t delivering [because] no trends were identified.

"Now, there is much greater emphasis on putting values into practice. Our policies and procedures have been made clear and streamlined. "

The charity said it was "investing in our skills" to "create a safe environment for our residents."

An anonymous tip-off eventually led to the care home in Highbridge being closed in 2016 and an official report into the home has now been published.

The report includes details of horrific abuse against six residents and states all the allegations were investigated and staff sacked or suspended.

But it confirms no one faced criminal prosecution.

A report has now been published by the Safeguarding Somerset Adults Board (SSAB).

Richard Crompton, independent Chair of the SSAB, said: “These reviews are not about apportioning blame.

''They are about making sure lessons are learned and improvements made.

“This happened to be in Somerset, but the weaknesses in the system are nationwide and must be considered at that level.

“That is why some of our key recommendations are addressed to the Department of Health and Social Care and national bodies.

“This board exists to protect vulnerable people and reduce the risk of incidents like those at Mendip House happening again.

“This will have been tremendously upsetting for the victims and their families and the board very much thanks them for the support they gave the investigation.

“I know that the agencies involved it have learned lessons and I hope that they can be learned nationally too.''

The care home run by the National Autistic Society was one of six homes on the same site, Somerset Court, in a 'campus' style facility.

Despite this, in November 2016 police confirmed there was “no likelihood” of a criminal prosecution, although it later emerged that an incorrect address was provided for one of the suspects and that another refused to answer calls.

After the care home closed on October 31, 2016, the CQC committed to paying close attention to other care homes run by NAS nationally.

The watchdog admitted that it should have responded to allegations made in 2014, two years before an investigation was launched.

NAS said in the report that there was a “factional, laddish culture at Mendip House”, and “there is a general practice of ignoring the mobile phone policy across the whole of the Somerset Court site.”