Inside Broadmoor High-Security Psychiatric Hospital : How are prisoners admitted?

Inside Broadmoor High-Security Psychiatric Hospital : How are prisoners admitted?

If you are a fan of American Horror Story, you may be familiar with the arbitrary basis on which prisoners are admitted to the asylum in season two. Thankfully, outside the parameters of horror television, things are much more regulated.


Tonight ITV will air the first part series showing the inner workings of Broadmoor, a high-security psychiatric hospital, which houses over 200 men- many of which are the UK's most mentally-ill and disturbed criminals.

ITV have petitioned for five years to allow camera's inside the institute which is often confused with a prison. ITV filmed the lives of patients and staff over the course of a year.

Broadmoor has housed many high profile patients including Charles Bronson, Ronnie Kray, Peter Sutcliffe and Kenneth Erskine. Staff at the hospital are required to wear attack alarms and body cameras at all times as patients are extremely violent and unpredictable.

Understandably, the nature of mental illness and the violence displayed by some criminals may make prison unsuitable or unable to house them. However, here at Unlock the Law we are curious: when will a criminal be admitted to a psychiatric hospital, rather than kept in prison?

When will a prisoner be admitted to a psychiatric hospital?

A prisoner will be moved to a psychiatric hospital for their own safety, however this can only happen if they meet certain requirements under the Mental Health Act.

The Mental health Act is the law which is used to admit you to hospital for treatment or assessment of mental illness.

In order to be detained or 'sectioned' the prisoner must suffer from a mental illness which requires assessment or treatment. Furthermore, the person must require assessment or treatment in a hospital – for their own safety or to protect other people.

If a prisoner has a mental illness, although they are detained in prison, the prison may not be able to manage the mental illness of prisoner.

In this situation, the prison will apply to the Secretary of State for Justice to transfer the individual to a psychiatric hospital under section 47/49 of the Mental Health Act.

If the person's condition improves, they could be moved back into prison to serve the rest of their sentence.

However, if the end of the sentence is reached and treatment in hospital is still required, the individual may be moved to a different section. This is known at a section 37 'notional'.

If the individual disagrees with this decision, they can appeal to the Hospital Managers and the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT). The hospital is however able to treat the individual without their permission.

If however the prisoner is discharged from hospital at the end of their sentence, they may receive free aftercare services which can include things such as supported housing.

When you are discharged, you are entitled to free aftercare services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act. This can include things such as supported housing.

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