Sexual abuse. Shock therapy. Behavioural modification programmes. What do these three things have in common? All were a terrifying and overlooked part of the day-to-day running of the maximum security psychiatric hospital; Broadmoor. Most people think of Broadmoor as a prison, but in reality it’s the high security home to England’s worst offenders. It’s one of the three psychiatric hospitals in England, the others being Ashworth and Rampton, and arguably the most famous. Filled with Britain's most notorious offenders, including arsonists, murderers, rapists and torturers, Broadmoor has many secrets lurking within its walls.
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Founded in 1863, in Crowthorne England, Broadmoor has housed over 2500 criminally insane patients. Now it’s the home to 210 men as all women were moved elsewhere in 2007. All the patients that live at Broadmoor have been diagnosed with severe mental illnesses. Most have schizophrenia or personality disorders and have either been convicted of serious crimes and later transferred to Broadmoor or found unfit to plead in a trial of such crimes and are moved straight there. While the average stay of patients there is 6 years, there is never a definite time of release for patients and some can be there for life. Treatment of the patients by the staff has become increasingly better over the past decade. While it still isn’t perfect, compared to what it used to be, it could be considered that. The women there faced the worst treatment by far. They were moved to a new hospital in Southall in 2007, but before that, especially before the 2000’s they would be forced to undress and bathe in front of staff, other patients and visitors. They had no privacy and were abused time and time again by the staff. A survey taken in 2003 showed that out of 28 women there were more than 1000 incidents of verbal abuse, 64 cases of sexual harassment, 56 cases of sexual abuse, 5 rapes and 6 incidents of consensual intercourse over 3 years. Now I want you to image something. Imagine yourself, you think that you’re a perfectly healthy and normal person. You partake in normal person activities. Then, all of a sudden you hear voices telling you to do something. Something that you never thought you’d ever do. You do it. And you get put on trial, seen unfit to plead and sent away. Locked up in Broadmoor Hospital. You don’t see why you’re there. In your mind you’re still perfectly normal and have done nothing wrong. You then become angry with everyone because you still believe that you did the right thing and don’t deserve to be there. That’s how many of the patients at Broadmoor feel. Like they don’t deserve to be there. Like all of a sudden everyone’s against you. You no longer feel safe, it’s almost as if people are trying to hurt you. Because of this patients often refuse to take their medication telling the nurses that they don’t need it. “Nothing’s wrong with me” they say. They then become violent and have to be restrained and forcefully injected with their medication.
One patient in the hospital refuses to eat anything he is given until he’s force-fed because he believes that the hospital is trying to poison him. Staff at the hospital are often viewed as villains by the patients, but in actual fact the staff there make it their mission to make sure that the patients there are as comfortable and cared for as possible. They don’t want to hurt the patients, last resort is forceful injections or restraint when absolutely necessary. They know that patients struggle with mental issues, and are there to help. They don’t want people to be harming themselves because they can’t deal with small problems, they don’t want people to believe that everyone is trying to hurt them, they don’t want people to be upset and angry at themselves or others. They do want them to be happy and they do want to help them achieve happiness, no matter what the cost.
I personally think that while Broadmoor hospital is doing their very best to provide the utmost comfort and medical treatment for their patients, they could be going about it slightly better, however from looking at how much it’s changed since it was first opened, reading about some patients time there I believe that it will gradually become a much better institute. A direct quote from Dr Amlan Basu, a clinical director at Broadmoor: “Patients that come here, they will have perpetrated often horrendous crimes but they are also victims and it’s very easy to see somebody as either the perpetrator or the victim. It’s much more difficult to understand that somebody might be both. ” No other prison hospital has lodged such a collection of killers and dreamers; the sad, the mad and the bad.