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Dangerous Psychiatric Patients - Carers UK Forum

Dangerous Psychiatric Patients

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
News on MSN today, just thought I'd share and wonder does anyone have any remarks to make on this subject.

Dangerous psychiatric patients are being fitted with satellite tracking devices by hospitals to stop them escaping and reoffending.

The South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust is fitting patients with ankle bracelets containing global positioning system (GPS) technology under the pilot scheme.

More than 60 medium and high-risk patients detained at the trust were fitted with the device as a condition of day leave or while they are transferred between hospitals.

A spokeswoman for the trust said: "We have a duty to provide high quality patient care while at the same time promoting public safety.

"Our medium secure services provide hospital treatment for people with severe mental health problems - many of whom have restrictions placed upon them by the courts.

"We are currently exploring the use of a tracking system to help us provide safe, secure and effective services. Before introducing this pilot scheme we consulted widely with patients, their representatives and mental health charities."

The ankle bracelet allows authorities to track a patient's movements to within a few metres anywhere in the world.

The GPS device, known as a Buddi tracker, was originally designed for carers to track dementia patients who wandered from their homes.

The system was introduced in south London after rapist Terrence O'Keefe, 39, escaped custody at King's College Hospital in March 2008 and later strangled David Kemp, 73, in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

The new system will cost the NHS about £600 for each patient, including £250 for an ankle bracelet containing a mobile phone chip and GPS locator.
I am opposed to it on a number of grounds:

It perpetuates negative streotypes, stigma and ignorance of mental illness: despite public perceptions that care in the community has been responsible for an increased number of murders by psychiatric patients the number of murders committed by psychiatric patients has remained unchanged for around 50 years; proportionally the number of murders by psychiatric patients is substantially lower than the number of murders committed by "normal" members of the public; psychiatric patients are more likely to be the victims of assault than the perpetrators.

It does not prevent incidents, merely shows whether the patient was in the location of an incident; this is not a safe or appropriate alternative to ensuring that the very few patients who present a risk are not allowed out unaccompanied, tracking is a cheap alternative to providing appropriate care; patients who are not detained under one of the criminal sections of the Mental Health Act should not be subjected to a process which is normally exclusively used to track criminals, I believe that tracking patients who are not detained because they have committed criminal acts is open to legal challenge.

This pilot scheme has the potential to be extended to a wider group of patients who present a very low risk or no risk, risk assessments are notoriously inaccurate, I recollect Paul Boetang, who was Home Office Minister at the time of the debate of the reform of the Mental Health Act with responsibility for the proposed reforms alongside his Department of Health counterpart, stating in The Guardian prior to a general election that the then government was considering 24-hour monitoring of psychiatric patients living in the community, he was not specific about the technology but satellite tracking was the first technology which came to mind, I believed then and continue to believe that any attempt to track patients who have not committed or been convicted of a criminal act would be an appalling breach of their civil liberties.
Hello Parsifal
Thankyou for posting your views and concerns; I agree fully with all you have said in your reply; you also raised some very interesting points.