Inside Britain’s highest security psychiatric hospital

The Independent has an article giving a rare look inside Broadmoor Hospital, one of only four high security psychiatric hospital in the UK, which houses some of the most severely dangerous offenders with mental illness.

Broadmoor is the oldest and most well-known high secure hospital in Britain, having housed a string of high profile murders and other violent offenders since Victorian times to the present day.

The article focuses on the Paddock Centre, a new section to treat people with a dangerous and severe personality disorder (DSPD).

DSPD is not a medical diagnosis, it is a category created by the UK government to classify a group of offenders with a diagnosable personality disorder who are thought to be at risk of violent offending in the future.

The category was devised because the government wanted to find a way in which psychiatrists could treat persistently violent offenders with an antisocial personality disorder diagnosis, because the mental health act only allowed people to be detained if their condition was treatable.

Since there was no treatment, psychiatrists couldn’t detain such people and refused to do so, so the government created the category and changed the law so they could.

Hence we now have the rapidly expanding DSPD Programme and Broadmoor houses the Paddock Centre, the biggest DSPD centre in the country.

The category has caused a great deal of ethical debate and even heated argument, as it allows currently untreatable people to be detained on the basis of risk, rather than for committing a specific crime.

However, the Independent article is more focused on the day-to-day running of the unit, talking to its lead psychiatrists and giving a picture of how it functions.

Journalistic insights into Broadmoor are incredibly infrequent, so this is a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of what goes on. The only other recent example I can think of was a 2004 edition of BBC All in the Mind that you can still listen to online.

Link to Independent ‘Exclusive: Inside Broadmoor’.

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