Broadmoor staff face action over escapes

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The Independent Online
SIX NURSES at Broadmoor top-security hospital are facing disciplinary action after two escapes within 24 hours last month by convicted killers, writes Nicholas Timmins.

The action is disclosed in two highly critical reports on the escapes - one pointing to a catalogue of errors that allowed Anthony Pilditch to flee with pounds 1,000 in cash and watches and jewellery worth thousands more. He was on a rehabilitation shopping trip to Reading and escaped from his escorts when he went to a hotel lavatory. He was recaptured a week later after being admitted to hospital with a heart complaint.

A day after Pilditch absconded, Kenneth Erskine - the 'Stockwell Strangler' who killed seven pensioners - was loose for nearly an hour after eluding his escorts during a visit to Heatherwood Hospital, Ascot. Leaks of the report say no discussion took place over the escort arrangements, level of observation, or use of handcuffs although he was known to be dangerous.

Among the 34 changes to procedures recommended, the report says metal detectors should be used to search patients leaving the hospital, escorts should carry mobile telephones, doctors should be contracted to visit Broadmoor wherever possible rather than patients being taken out, and a review of the use of handcuffs on outside visits should be instituted.

Disciplinary hearings start on Friday.

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