Broadmoor is a bleak sounding name. Its 150-years old, an asylum, sixty miles from London that is expanding out to meet it. It used provide a daytrip for gentile Londoners to go and gawk at Broadmoor’s inmates. Now the cameras have been invited inside. I’m not really sure why.
Broadmoor we are told holds 200 ‘patients’ at a cost of £300 000 per year, per patient, an annual cost to the NHS of £60 million pounds a year (or one Millenium Dome). Note the word patient. In the world of the sad, the bad and the mad these are classified as the the last of these. So it’s home to Peter Sutcliffe and the Krays and somebody else whose name I can’t remember, but I’m sure must have killed a number of folk. The other residents that were shown seemed far more sad than bad. A young boy in particular, with a working diagnosis of Asperger’s had, we were told, tried to murder his family. His artwork was stunning.
Then we had middle-aged Lennie, who seemed a bit hyper. He had threatened to cut a psychiatrist’s head off with a machete. Some people might think that wouldn’t be a bad thing. But it got him moved pretty quickly from one mental health unit to Broadmoor.
So far, so blah, blah. Security was Broadmoor’s main concern. We were told that behaviour was controlled. Residents who modified their behaviour and were able to interact with their peers were given greater freedom. Drama came with giving a patient in his room (not his cell, although the door was locked 23 hours a day) a glass of milk. A tag-team of six staff hung about as the door was opened and a glass of milk pushed in. Safety first.
What interested me was that most of the staff were heavy and coloured. That’s the nature of the job. Lots of sitting about and a tendency towards obesity in patients, but also in staff. The coloured bit interested me more because in the mid-seventies when Jimmy Savile gave Rolf Harris a guided tour of Broadmoor most of the staff would have been white and lived in subsidized housing close to the hospital. Jimmy Savile had his own set of keys (so much for security) and was said to have blackmailed staff over the amount in overtime payments they claimed for.
Staff after each ‘incident’ had ‘time out’ to discuss it before going back to work.
Compare Broadmoor with Russia’s Toughest Prison where they keep ‘the Condemned’.
They employ the same system of rewards and punishments for prisoners. These are societies sick. Prisoners who were until recently executed — a change that the warden and some prisoners lament as a change for the worse.
Care was basic. Live or die.
I’m pretty sure you could move patients from Broadmoor to Russia’s toughest prison with annual savings of £55 million pound a year, £550 million in ten years, multiply that by 1000 in property and land sales and we’d almost have enough to buy a Trident missile to save us from the Russians. Needs thinking about in these cost-conscious times.