Jerome Taylor: Play the treatment game – or remain trapped in the system

Broadmoor needs to find away to treat Mr Haines or he will remain behind bars for another 25 years
  • @jerometaylor

The unusual decision by Albert Haines to wave his automatic right to confidentiality not only afforded us a rare glimpse into how mental health tribunals work. It also revealed how a man who has spent more than a quarter of a century in some of Britain's most secure hospitals feels abandoned and misdiagnosed by the people who are meant to help him get better.

Until The Independent first reported on his case this year, few people outside of Broadmoor or his family even knew that Mr Haines existed.

There's no doubt that the decisions mental health tribunals have to make are serious and often tortuous. Those who sit on tribunal panels hold someone's liberty in their hands.

When a tribunal is called to decide on a patient's ongoing detention it is up to the hospital to convince them why continued incarceration (the professionals prefer the word "treatment") is necessary. With Albert Haines they made a strong case. He is uncooperative, often aggressive, violent towards hospital staff and has refused treatment.

But what also came out was an inability by Broadmoor to recognise that much of his anger stems from a sincerely held belief that he has been unfairly incarcerated for far too long. They may not agree with that statement, but as one independent expert testified, they need to find a way to treat Mr Haines "on his own terms" or else he will simply end up behind bars for another 25 years.

Through working on this story over eight months I met a several lawyers who specialise in representing people with complex mental health issues. One, who acts for clients at Broadmoor, told me: "You only ever leave secure hospitals if you play the game. Those who refuse to co-operate with their treatment are trapped."

Mr Haines is definitely someone who has so far refused to play anyone's game but his own.