'Harmless' poet to stay in Broadmoor

Janet Cresswell, the poet who has spent more than 25 years in Broadmoor, has been refused release in a decision described by her family as "pathetic".

A special tribunal panel has ruled that the 72-year-old should not be discharged, although they have admitted that Ms Cresswell no longer requires maximum security.

One of the reasons given by the panel to justify their decision was that Ms Cresswell has been isolated from men and would not be able to cope with the outside world.

The plight of Ms Cresswell was one of the catalysts for The Independent on Sunday's mental health campaign. She receives no medication and would almost certainly be released if she would agree to go under the supervision of a Home Office psychiatrist. Ms Cresswell has consistently refused. She says she is not mad. The mother and grandmother ended up in Broadmoor after attacking her psychiatrist with a vegetable knife. Her"sentence" has been longer than that of most murderers.

Professor Alec Jenner, a retired professor of psychiatry at Sheffield University, who has corresponded with Ms Cresswell, has said she is "quite harmless" but stubborn. "If she had played ball with the authorities she could have been released a long time ago."

She is among hundreds who have languished for years in Britain's high-security hospitals. Official estimates show that more than half could go into medium-security units, where their treatment would be geared towards discharge.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments