Tuesday, January 12, 1999 Published at 21:07 GMT
Ashworth: A catalogue of shame
Ashworth Hospital: pornography was rife
The inquiry into the Ashworth top security hospital uncovered an appalling catalogue of mismanagement and security lapses at the unit.
The report by Peter Fallon QC found financial irregularities, drug abuse, pornography and a poor quality of patient care were all present at the hospital.
The main allegations centred on a ward in the personality disorder unit at the hospital. They included:
The report found security was almost non-existent. Steven Daggett, the patient who originally drew attention to the problems at Ashworth, was able, while a patient at the unit, to change his name by deed poll, acquire a new passport and driving licence, and use a credit card to take out a large sum of money prior to absconding.
A full scale search in January 1997 revealed a stock of children's underwear in the room of a man who had molested girls, and male pornography in the room of a child murderer.
Both men had VCRs used for copying videos.
Among the recommendations of the Fallon inquiry which have been accepted by the government are:
The report also recommends the transfer of high security facilities such as Ashworth to regional networks of forensic psychiatric services.
A further recommendation is for the creation of a new sentence called a "reviewable sentence" for people with a severe personality disorder who pose a grave risk to the public.
The sentence would allow a judicially-led body to review the offender's history and medical record as he approached his earliest release date, and renew his sentence for up to two years at a time if he was deemed to still pose a risk.
The Department of Health and the Home Office has also been urged to set up a working group to develop a standardised assessment protocol for severe personality disorder.