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Monday, March 23, 1998 Published at 11:49 GMT


Broadmoor could close, says report
image: [ Broadmoor psychiatric hospital is one of three the NHS recommends should close ]
Broadmoor psychiatric hospital is one of three the NHS recommends should close

The government is considering closing the three maximum-security psychiatric hospitals - Broadmoor, Ashworth and Rampton - and moving dangerous patients to small units, a leaked report has shown.

[ image: Moors murderer Ian Brady would be moved if the changes go ahead]
Moors murderer Ian Brady would be moved if the changes go ahead
The BBC programme Panorama says Broadmoor, Rampton and Ashworth special hospitals, which house Moors murderer Ian Brady and the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, may be shut down.

If this happens, about 750 patients - half the number held in the hospitals - would be transferred to lower-security smaller units.

Many could be near residential areas. Brian Caton, from the Prison Officers' Association, warns the Department of Health and the Home Office of the impact of such a change.

Brian Caton tells the BBC's Panorama programme he would expect a public outcry if mental hospitals close (0'12")
"The political cost would be: do you like your job as a minister?" he tells the Panorama programme Out of Sight, Out of Mind, which is broadcast on Monday evening.

"Make these decisions and you might be doing something else."

A strategy document by the NHS Executive Board tells ministers: "The high security hospitals should not continue in their present role beyond the next few years."

[ image: Brian Caton: reforms would be ministerial suicide]
Brian Caton: reforms would be ministerial suicide
It says: "The only way of getting rid of the institutional and punitive culture which continues to pervade them" is to close them.

Under the proposals, six to eight high-security smaller units would replace the large hospitals for dangerous patients such as Brady and Sutcliffe.

The change in the way mentally ill convicts are detained would allow special units to be set up for women and patients with learning difficulties.

The Department of Health confirmed that a review of the hospitals was under way. It declined to give any further details but said an announcement would be made within months.

[ image: Ray Rowden: failure to act will cause greater scandals]
Ray Rowden: failure to act will cause greater scandals
The former Director of the High Security Psychiatric Services Commissioning Board, Ray Rowden, tells Panorama that he believes there is greater danger in not reforming high-security psychiatric hospitals. "These places could implode," he said.

"Let it rumble and I guarantee you that two years from now you'll have another scandal that will come and dollop straight on to your ministerial lap."

Ray Rowden: "Let it rumble and I guarantee you'll have another scandal" (0'27")
Mr Rowden said the existing system failed both the public and patients. "In my view, if we're going to have any chance of making these services work to provide both credible security for the public and appropriate therapeutic care for the patients needing this level of support and security, it seems to me that you've got three beached institutions that are just too big," he said.

Ray Rowden: "People are trapped" (0'45")
"What you've got to do is break them down to manageable sizes and integrate them fully with mainstream mental health and other social and welfare services. Because at the moment, with these three isolated institutions, you've got people trapped."

[ image: Ashworth, also named in the report, is being investigated for drugs and pornography]
Ashworth, also named in the report, is being investigated for drugs and pornography
Out of Sight, Out of Mind, which is to be shown at 2200GMT in Britain on BBC1, also includes the first broadcast interview with a patient at the centre of a public inquiry into Ashworth hospital on Merseyside.

Steven Daggett testified that patients in the hospital had access to drugs and pornography. In addition, he said, young children were allowed to roam unattended inside the hospital, where paedophiles are held.

Daggett, who was himself convicted of assaulting girls, has since been transferred to Rampton Hospital in Nottinghamshire.

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