Police have said 'safeguarding concerns' at eight West Sussex care homes are the subject of ongoing enquiries into the circumstances of twelve deaths dating back to 2015.
West Sussex County Council said placements had now been suspended to eight homes run by Sussex Health Care, which has a total of 20 homes caring for 580 elderly and disabled people.
The provider confirmed it is "working openly with the police to support the investigation".
On Friday, bereaved relatives attended a meeting with Sussex Police to discuss the circumstances of their loved ones’ deaths, which date from April 2015 to June this year.
Representatives from the Council, the NHS, Care Quality Commission and the Coroner for West Sussex were also in attendence.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We are working with West Sussex County Council as part of a multi-agency team investigating safeguarding concerns at a number of private care homes in West Sussex run by one company.
“The senior investigating officer (SIO) for the police investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Till Sanderson, invited families of people whose deaths we may be investigating, to a private meeting which took place at County Hall, Horsham, on Friday (18 August).
“The police investigation still remains at an early stage and aims to identify whether any criminal offences have been committed, or not. No arrests have been made at this time.”
In a statement, West Sussex County Council said: "We have no plans currently to move residents but obviously we will continue to keep this under review.
"Robust safeguarding plans have been put in place for individual people and for the services they are using as is the case when safeguarding enquiries are raised.
The Care Quality Commission is also carrying out an investigation in conjunction with the police probe.
Debbie Ivanova, its deputy chief inspector of adult social care, said: “We carried out a series of unannounced inspections as a result of information of concern passed to us by West Sussex County Council.”
“We will publish full reports, detailing our findings and any enforcement action against the provider, as soon as we can.”
A spokesman for Sussex Health Care said: "Sussex Health Care is working openly with the police and West Sussex County Council to support their current investigation.
"We are committed to assisting them in any way we can and positively await the conclusion and the outcome of the investigation. Our priority at all times is to provide a high standard of care to every person we support.
"As a responsible provider, we have always invested in our staff and services to make sure we have the right resources available to provide that care."
Pictured - Longfield Manor is one of the homes run by Sussex Health Care (c) Google Maps.