'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."

News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez missed a penalty before scoring the opening goal with a header at the back post
footballLive! Sanchez makes up for penalty miss to put Arsenal ahead
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
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

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

    £70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all