IoS claims victory for mentally ill

Campaign: the IoS says Cresswell’s transfer is a step towards better treatment for the mentally ill

The Independent on Sunday has claimed a victory in its long-running mental health campaign following the transfer of writer Janet Cresswell out of Broadmoor high-security hospital.

Cresswell, 72, had been in Broadmoor for 25 years after being jailed for attacking her psychiatrist with a vegetable knife.

The Independent on Sunday first highlighted her plight three years ago when it revealed that around 400 mentally ill people were being denied transfer from high-security units because of a shortage of beds.

The newspaper then published a series of articles about the poet and playwright and some of her letters.

Cresswell’s transfer to medium-security Thornton Park hospital meant that Independent on Sunday home affairs correspondent Sophie Goodchild could speak to Cresswell for the first time after more than a year working on the story.

Goodchild’s applications to visit Broadmoor had been rejected, so correspondence had only been possible by post.

The reporter said: “I phoned her ward and asked the person who answered the phone if I could speak to her. I was a bit shocked becuase I thought I would have to go through all sorts of hurdles – but in a medium-security unit it’s not as restrictive. “She was incredibly lucid and pretty relaxed. She is a very articulate woman and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the system.”

According to The Independent on Sunday, one of the reasons Cresswell has not been released is that she refuses to admit she is “insane” and therefore cannot progress through the Home Office system.

Cresswell has more freedom at Thornton Park and access to her own word processor.

The Independent on Sunday said it would maintain its calls for her to be helped back into the community as part of its campaign for better treatment of the mentally ill.

Goodchild said: “It’s an issue that can be overlooked because it’s not really a vote winner and a lot of these people don’t have votes anyway. In my 12 years working as a journalist I have never had as much feedback as I have had from this story. It’s been immense.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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