Starts tonight, Wednesday 5 November at 9pm on ITV.
Broadmoor, the most famous high secure hospital in the world, has allowed unprecedented access to television cameras for this new two-part ITV documentary.
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For the first time in its 150 year history, the viewing public will see the innermost parts of this iconic institution in this two part series. The hospital in Berkshire, often mistaken for a prison, helps treat severely mentally disordered patients many of whom are violent offenders. It’s best known for its high profile patients such as Charles Bronson, Ronnie Kray, Peter Sutcliffe and Kenneth Erskine.
Filmed over the course of a year, with extensive access to the hospital, the programmes paint a picture of life inside Broadmoor for both staff and patients. It’s the first time that patients have been allowed to tell their stories themselves and cameras follow patients while they meet psychiatrists, open up about their violent backgrounds, visit the hospital shop and participate in workshops.
The result is an unprecedented insight into what really goes on behind those infamous red brick walls; how violent patients are treated, what they do each day and who the men and women are, who work with the country’s most dangerous men. It took five years to negotiate this unprecedented level of access.
In total the hospital treats around 200 of the most violent and mentally disturbed men in the country, aiming to prevent them from being a danger to themselves and to others. The men in Broadmoor are classed as vulnerable adults so not all of them were capable of giving consent to appear in the series. The most notorious patients have not taken part even though they were invited to.
In the first programme, cameras are present when one patient refuses medication and it has to be forcibly administered. Another patient with a history of violence on the intensive care ward refuses to return to his room and has to be physically restrained and moved by staff. In one interview, a patient reveals he has never been able to articulate the details of his violent offence and another man speaks about his frighteningly abusive childhood during a session with his psychiatrist. Interviews with staff reveal that on high dependency wards violent incidents occur every other day.
For patients in Broadmoor there is no fixed term for their stay so although it is hard to be committed there, it is even harder to get out. 35% of men come from prison, 35% from the court system, 25% from medium secure psychiatric units and 5% from other high-secure hospitals.
Whether patients have committed arson, torture, rape or murder, they undergo a combination of medication and psychological therapies.
Clinical Nurse Manager, Ken Wakatama says: “Our focus when working with these guys is actually telling them that they are here not because of the illness, they are here because of the violence and they will only progress from here if there is a reduction in that violence.”
Cranfield Ward is home to the hospital’s most challenging patients and violence is never far from the surface. Trouble flares up one day on the ward when a patient who has been allowed into the hospital’s yard for exercise refuses to come back in. Patients are allowed into the yard on their own for short periods. The patient gets increasingly aggressive towards staff so the patient’s primary nurse organises a planned intervention to forcibly move him back to his room. Strict protocols have to be followed in these instances and a team of staff manages to escort the patient back to his room without causing himself or the staff any serious injuries. Whenever force has to be used staff take time out to debrief afterwards.
The programme reveals that there are on average four assaults a week on staff at the hospital and employees run the risk of serious injuries every day.
When asked how often similar incidents happen on Cranfield Ward, one nurse says:
“Every other day. There are days when the ward will be very settled and the patients will be in a happy mood but not all the time because their mental state tends to subside a lot.”
Executive Producer Jonathan Levi
Produced and Directed by Olivia Lichtenstein for Shiver