Psychiatric patients with “dangerous and severe” personality disorders will be moved from secure hospitals to prisons under government plans, a report has revealed.
Ministers want to start cutting the number of places for those with the most acute mental problems at secure hospitals including Broadmoor, which currently houses notorious inmates such as Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe.
There are currently between 2,000 and 3,000 patients who suffer from personality disorders but the government believes prisons, which have a lower ratio of staff to prisoners, are more “appropriate”.
In its response to the Offender Personality Disorder Consultation, care minister Paul Burstow and prisons minister Crispin Blunt have concluded many patients detained in high-security hospitals could be moved in to the main prison population as the departments look to spend their budgets more effectively.
Their report finds the £69 million a year currently invested in treating the most dangerous psychiatric patients could be better spent by “reducing spending in NHS secure psychiatric hospitals DSPD (Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder) units and increasing the number of treatment places in prisons as well as improved case management services”.
At present, most of that money is spent on just 300 places at secure hospitals and the government hopes that by transferring services to prisons, it will be possible to identify those with personality disorders sooner so they can begin treatment early in their sentences.
But the reforms could mean “possible redundancies” as ministers look to open the first specialist units within prisons from next April.
Both Mr Burstow and Mr Blunt insist the changes will not see dangerous psychiatric patients currently held in high-security hospitals moved to low-level security prisons.
In a joint opening statement in the report, they state: “Public protection remains paramount to our proposals and we will maintain the highest level of secure management to achieve this outcome with all offenders continuing to be treated in the level of security necessary for the risk they present.”
They add: “We will continue to provide services in secure psychiatric hospitals for offenders whose treatment needs cannot be met in prison and detainable under the Mental Health Act.”