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

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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: the paraphernalia of a practised burglar – screwdrivers, gloves, children

Guy Keleny
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits  

So who, really, is David Cameron, our re-elected ‘one nation’ Prime Minister?

Andrew Grice
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?