broadmoor documentary 2014

Broadmoor is a two part ITV documentary about what was an ‘asylum for the criminally insane’ and is now an NHS hospital for criminals with mental illnesses. It’s the first time they’ve allowed filming inside for 150 years. It’s very interesting, but proceed with caution; there are frank accounts of abusive childhoods, violence, satanism, one inmate was a child soldier … you get the idea. You will also see and hear a lot about self harm.

Because of the outside appearance of the buildings, especially its high walls, and the inaccurate news reporting it has often received, many people believe that Broadmoor Hospital is a prison – it’s not. Although most patients are referred by the criminal justice system, they are still patients in hospital and their daily routines and treatment programmes are designed to assist their therapeutic recovery. (Broadmoor Hospital website)

Staff are portrayed as permanently calm and reasonable; they speak of the inmates as being both criminals and victims and the psychiatrists in particular, talk about the possibility of recovery. The illnesses are “very amenable to treatment,” says one, but you will of course, meet repeat inmates and those who have been there for over a decade. Not all of the men (and they are all men) are violent criminals – people who self harm seriously in prison are sent there too.

It costs £300k per year to keep a man in Broadmoor, which is five times the cost of a normal prison. One of the staff said he reckoned he could spot who would end up in Broadmoor when they were five to six year old children. On the outside it can take six months to see a social worker, who might then refer you to a psychiatrist.

Interestingly, none of the psychiatric nurses shown had completely British accents (Africa was well represented), which proves that nursing at Broadmoor is a shit job that first worlders would far rather leave to the immigrants that a lot of them despise. And with an average of five attacks on staff per week, it’s hardly surprising. According to this report, there have been some serious issues between staff.

As for the inmates, “most of them are overweight” due to psychiatric meds. Most of them are also working class, if accents can be used as criteria. “They maybe mentally ill, but they’re not stupid,” says a nurse. “(The prisoner) is not the brightest,” says a psychiatrist. I didn’t notice many disorders being named (please tell me if you do) – borderline personality disorder, psychosis, paranoid schizophrenia, ‘a personality disorder’ were the extent of it. The most ill and violent men were not shown or interviewed, as they were judged to be incapable of giving consent. The main point of conflict between staff and patients, is meds and force is used to restrain men where necessary, to give them depot injections.

I’m not hotlinking the documentary here, the version I was watching was deleted while I was halfway through the second episode. The words search and YouTube will do the trick though. If you’re in the UK, it’s on yer ITV player innit.

If you’re interested in Broadmoor during the Victorian period, I reviewed a pretty cool book here.

Interesting things:
The Broadmoor siren – for locals
Why we opened our doors to a film crew – tl;dr to dispel myths
A boys own Broadmoore – I’ve linked this one before, but it’s good enough to link again. It’s a longread by someone who’s father ran Broadmoor.
Graham Young – youngest inmate since 1885. “If you don’t behave, I’ll let Graham make your coffee.”
When Roy Winstone Met Ronnie Kray and peed on him.

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