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Secure hospital numbers high

11th September 2007

Record numbers of patients are being treated in secure psychiatric wards in England, according to new figures.

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The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health confirmed that over 3,500 people were being held in secure hospitals in July 2007.

The report on Forensic Mental Health Services showed there has been a significant rise in the number of people held in high and medium-secure units over the last ten years. From 1996 to 2007, the number increased by 45% - mostly in medium-secure units.

The researchers also discovered that most people were admitted to the secure units from prison. Over one-third of those held in 2004 had carried out violent crimes and 26 people died in secure hospitals in 2005.

The research showed that less than one in 10 patients re-offend within two years of being held at a secure unit.

Sainsbury Centre director of prisons and criminal justice Sean Duggan said alternative options were needed for people with severe mental health issues, with medium-secure units the "only option in many places".

He said the government faced questions, including: "Are secure hospitals the best form of diversion from prison? Would community-based alternatives be better? With one prisoner in 10 experiencing severe mental illness, how many places are needed in forensic care?"

 




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