'One murder a week' by psychiatric patients

The Government denied that it was failing to protect the public from dangerous mentally ill people as a report said that one person a week dies at the hands of a psychiatric patient.

The report, due to be published today, says that a third of the killings were carried out by people judged not to be a danger. One in six were blamed on the failure to ensure patients took their medication properly.

It is also expected to reveal that 249 people were killed by patients released over the past five years.

Rosie Winterton, the Health minister, acknowledged yesterday that the Government could not force discharged patients to take medication, but insisted that the battle over public protection was not being lost.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World at One, she said: "If they are discharged, there are some patients who don't continue to take medication, who don't continue to stay in touch with mental health services. At the moment we have no power to be able to say we want people to comply with treatment."

The report, Avoidable Deaths, was commissioned by the National Patient Safety Agency and produced by Professor Louis Appleby, the Government's national clinical director for mental health. Reports in The Observer and The Sunday Times claim that he will conclude that health staff were failing to identify those patients most likely to kill someone.

He is quoted as saying: "This is really to do with how mental health staff rate a person as low or high risk. Sometimes they just become desensitised."

His findings follow an inquiry into the killing of the retired banker, Denis Finnegan, 50, by a paranoid schizophrenic, John Barrett, which found doctors caring for Barrett were so intent on meeting his wishes that they played down the risk to the public.

But Ms Winterton said that 700 community mental health teams had been introduced to work with patients since 2001.

"It is important to see it in the wider context as well, of improvements and new investment in mental health services," she said. "What we need to do now is to make sure that the care that we can provide in the community is reflected in modern legislation."

The report will also reveal that 25 mentally ill patients commit suicide every week, with some 1,300 taking their lives every year. It will highlight how they do not receive enhanced support on leaving hospital.

Marjorie Wallace, the chief executive of the mental health charity, Sane, said she believed that one in three of the killings - as well as many of the suicides - could be prevented.

"It is not a question just of resources or laws, but, as has been highlighted, the failure to identify people at risk when all the red alerts were, in hindsight, flashing," she said. "It seems that those making decisions about whether a patient would discharge himself from hospital, or be allowed to leave, are so concerned to protect his civil liberties and short-term wishes that they are turning a collective blind eye to the risks a person may pose to themselves or occasionally others.

"Considering that nearly a third of those in this report who went on to commit homicide had seen a mental health worker in the previous week, it is extraordinary they were assessed as at no or low risk."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

    £18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

    SEN Teaching Assistant needed for long term assignment

    £45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experienc...

    Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

    Primary Teachers needed in Ely

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

    "I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
    Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

    11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

    Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
    Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

    Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

    The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
    Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

    The school that means business

    Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
    10 best tablets

    The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

    They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
    Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

    Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

    The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
    Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

    Pete Jenson's a Different League

    Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
    John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
    The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

    The killer instinct

    Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
    Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

    Clothing the gap

    A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

    The Fall of the Berlin Wall

    Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain