The first psychiatric patient to have an appeal against detention heard in public has lost his bid to be discharged from Broadmoor high-security hospital.
Albert Haines, aged 52, has been detained under the Mental Health Act in Broadmoor and one other secure mental health unit for 25 years. Psychiatrists say he is a danger to society. Haines, claiming he is neither mentally ill nor dangerous, won a landmark right to argue his case for discharge from Broadmoor before a mental health tribunal which was open to the public and media.
After the two-day hearing last month the tribunal panel has decided Haines, held on a personality disorder ward and who refuses to have psychiatric treatment, should not be discharged from his mental health section, psychminded.co.uk has learnt.
Broadmoor has confirmed that the tribunal panel has arrived at a decision, but it is only after today that the panel will decide what details, if any, of its decision will be made public.
Lawyers had in February secured a right under the European convention on human rights for Haines’ appeal against detention to be publicly heard.
But the Mental Health Tribunal Service says the right to public disclosure does not apply to the full written decision itself.
“Such decisions are ordinarily not published, and the fact that the hearing was held in public does not of itself alter tribunal procedure,” said a Broadmoor spokesperson.
Haines’ solicitor, Kate Luscombe, has said she has requested that only the decision be made public, and not the panel’s full written analysis.
Until now mental health tribunals have always been held in private, largely to protect patient confidentiality.
Previous to Haines, there had been 10 applications for mental health tribunal hearings – of which there have been 100,000 over the last seven years in England and Wales – to be heard in public. Only one was granted, but that was withdrawn.
Dr Kevin Murray, clinical director at Broadmoor Hospital, whose 260 patients are involved in 170 private tribunals per year, said only “oppositional” patients were likely to push for public hearings.
Most patients do not want “to draw attention to themselves”, he said.
“There is a small group of patients who want a public hearing to attract attention to their case, as it was in this case [of Mr Haines].
“It is a way for a patient to avoid therapy. In the end it just means such patients stay longer in secure hospitals.”
Dr Murray, once Haines’ consultant psychiatrist, said most Broadmoor patients are “quietly working” with the hospital to progress to a medium-secure unit.
Only one in 20 patients remain in Broadmoor Hospital, in Crowthorne, Berkshire, for more than 20 years, he said.
“The system works efficiently, and is only really noticed when there is a flurry of publicity,” he said.
During Haines’ tribunal, his psychiatrist, Dr Jose Romero-Urcelay said Haines must willingly engage with healthcare professionals if he is ever to progress to less-secure care.
Ms Luscombe said her client’s objective of having “an open and fair hearing” had been met and praised his “exemplary” behaviour in front of the tribunal, which was held in central London.
“The decision to direct a public hearing allowed for public scrutiny of his case and he has received a fair degree of support from members of the public,” she said.
“My client conducted himself in an appropriate and dignified fashion throughout the course of the tribunal hearing.
“Broadmoor Hospital had speculated that deterioration in his mental health could occur, however there was no evidence of instability.
“My client’s behaviour was exemplary. He was able to follow the proceedings and line of questioning and to give evidence in a concise fashion which was indicative of his obvious capacity.”
Haines was first detained in Broadmoor hospital following two counts of attempted wounding in 1986.
Read more on the Albert Haines’ tribunal:
Sept 29, 2011: Landmark Broadmoor patient “dreams” of discharge from detention – but insists he will not have therapy – Albert Haines, the first psychiatric patient in public appeal against detention says he does not want to engage with professionals
Sept 23, 2011: Broadmoor patient “determined to get heard” in landmark case – “I do not have a mental illness and I’m not a danger to anyone,” says Albert Haines, due to be the first psychiatric patient to have appeal against 25 years of detention heard in public.