Tuesday, July 27, 1999 Published at 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Secure hospital plan approved
Opponents says the proposed site is too close to schools
A controversial plan to build a £12.5m secure unit for mentally ill patients close to a residential area has been given the go-ahead by health bosses.
Sex offenders and murderers who are currently housed in Scotland's state mental hospital could be moved into the new complex.
There has been strong opposition to the proposal for Stobhill Hospital in the north of Glasgow.
But Greater Glasgow Health Board approved the proposal on Tuesday, although the local authority must now grant planning permission.
The secure care unit will cost £12.5m to build and about £5.7m to run each year.
It will have a total of 76 beds - 32 will be classified as medium secure, 40 as low security and a further four beds are being provided for those with learning difficulties.
The type of patients involved are those who have offended and either have a mental illness, such as schizophrenia, or have learning difficulties.
"The secure care centre at Stobhill will provide more appropriate care for people with a mental health problem or learning disability who have offended," said Professor David Hamblen, chairman of the health board.
The unit will be run by Greater Glasgow Primary Care NHS Trust.
Chairman Andrew Robertson said: "The proposed new centre will provide treatment, medication, psychotherapy and group therapy covering a wide range of patient needs.
"Patients will be admitted from other psychiatric hospitals, the police, the courts, prison, through the community teams and from the state hospital."
He added that it would look after people who often spend time in hospital or prison because they have little support in the community.
The project could be completed within two years, despite Stobhill being rejected last year and then resurrected as the preferred option.
On Monday, objectors met health chiefs to discuss the plan.
Patricia Ferguson, Labour MSP for Maryhill, said she wanted to know "how secure will secure be".
"It's very close to a park where children play. People walk their dogs there, for example. It's very close to some primary schools," she said.
And Councillor Ron Davey believes the choice of site is fundamentally flawed.
"It shouldn't be in an area like this, it should be in an area where, if someone escapes from some kind of establishment like this, you can pick them up quickly before too much damage is done and not in a high density population area," he said.
Patients in the unit will be checked hourly, visitors will be searched and there will be a CCTV system and a perimeter fence as part of the security measures.
Despite the objections of local people, the move has been welcomed by Shona Barcus of the Scottish Association for Mental Health.
"There is a great need to bridge the gap between the maximum security at the State Hospital Carstairs and psychiatric hospitals which are not always the best location to provide this level of secure care," she said.