Ged Bailes: Some fears cannot be overcome

Comment

Share
Related Topics

Whenever there is a headline about a convicted killer undertaking a supervised shopping trip or visit to the seaside, public concern is understandable. That anxiety will always be greatly magnified when a very high-profile name – such as that of Peter Sutcliffe – enters the public domain in the context of a possible release.

For those of us who work with patients in secure hospitals, the tension between helping these individuals with a severe mental illness who have committed the most serious offences and public concern at the risk that they may re-offend is something we encounter on a daily basis.

There can be no doubt that there are crimes which are so extreme that the perpetrator can never be released on the grounds of public safety and the need for justice to be done. There are people who have to be incarcerated for a long, long time.

But the law of the land also states that whatever a person has done, there are certain circumstances in which they are able to apply for parole. This is not an arbitrary process by which an offender can be suddenly released on flimsy evidence.

It is a lengthy and very carefully thought-out process in which multiple factors are examined and weighed up, from the conduct of the individual on a day-to-day basis to the amount of insight they have into their offence, from the ability to monitor an individual in the community to the safety of the public.

Those shopping trips or outings only take place after an offender has jumped many hurdles to get to that position.

With an offender who has a serious mental illness such as paranoid schizophrenia – the condition with which Sutcliffe has been diagnosed – the task is to manage that condition.

Schizophrenia cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Roughly a quarter of sufferers can have their symptoms very well controlled and lead very productive lives. Around 50 per cent can be helped but will see their symptoms fluctuate and another quarter are resistant to treatment or medication does not help them.

Attitudes to some forms of mental illness in this country have changed and there is greater understanding that many conditions can be managed. But when it comes to crimes of violence, particularly where a crime is sexually violent, it is extremely difficult to escape the fear and anxiety that such offences generate. In the more sensational cases, those fears are heightened and need to be recognised.

Ged Bailes is a consultant forensic psychologist at the Norvic Clinic, a secure psychiatric unit in Norwich

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Education Editor: This shocking abuse of teachers should be taken seriously

Richard Garner
Brand loyalty: businessmen Stuart Rose (pictured with David Cameron at the Conservative conference in 2010) was among the signatories  

So, the people who always support the Tories... are supporting the Tories? Has the world gone mad?

Mark Steel
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?