From today's Daily Record
The basic story was covered slightly less sensationally here
I'm not surprised that the Daily Record
trivialises and misrepresents mental health issues. I am somewhat surprised - and disappointed - that Scotland on Sunday
is nearly as bad.
Some common elements in the tabloid and broadsheet coverage:
- > blaming the release of the men from Carstairs on European human rights laws;
- > the implication that the transfer to medium security accommodation has been undertaken with no proper review of the level of threat posed to the public.
Only in Scotland on Sunday
- > "lack of proper facilities to receive patients"
Only in the Daily Record:
- > "deranged knife fiends" "only place for these savages is Carstairs" "maniacs on road to freedom"
- > mention that the Edinburgh facility is "next to a primary school"
- > "with a view to their eventual release back into the community"
Let's find a way out of this maze of misdirection (the SoS article does have most of the relevant facts, albeit effectively buried).
The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act 2003 was introduced, in part, so that the treatment of mental patients in Scotland would be in line with European human rights legislation. Specifially, it provides patients with a right to a hearing at a mental health tribunal. For high security "restricted" patients the tribunal always includes a Sheriff, so the assessment is judicial as well as medical. So despite what "Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie" might think, there is no question of any patient's being moved anywhere without a proper assessment of whether they still prove a risk. It would be nice to think that "the public will be aghast" at Goldie's utter cluelessness, but I'm sure she has correctly judged the intelligence of most of her supporters.
There is no question of European law requiring anyone to be released, or indeed moved. All the law (our own law, upgraded to European standards) requires is that the patients have the opportunity for review of their status, in the same way that convicted criminals in prison have their cases reviewed for granting of parole or remission.
The "lack of proper facilities" seems to refer to the not-yet-complete Stobhill Hospital unit. There is no suggestion that the facilities at the Orchard Clinic or at Leverndale are in any way inadequate, and nobody is going to Stobhill until it's ready. So what's that all about?
"Fiends", "savages", "maniacs": we can always trust the Daily Record to hurl dehumanising abuse at its target du jour.
Neither of the "maniacs" complained of by the Record had a record of violence or sexual misconduct towards children, so why the emphasis on the nearby primary school? Actually, the site contains a much larger secondary school: would that be less of a problem if they had been a particular threat to children? If they still posed a general threat to the adult public, is the proximity of the school more relevant than the equal closeness of the busy Morningside shopping area? It's probably as hard to get into a school nowadays as it is to get out of a mental hospital, but you can wander into a supermarket or a Starbucks.
"Eventual release"..."road to freedom". According to the Daily Record; not according to the people in change of looking after the guys. They will be in locked wards, possibly allowed out under escort. Release is a long way off, with plenty more tribunals and assessments ahead.
As a resident of Morningside, where the Orchard Clinic is situated, I have to say we have got rather used to the presence of a mental hospital in our midst. It's been there for almost two hundred years, and is the one in whose grounds the Orchard Clinic is situated. It had locked wards long before the Orchard Clinic was built. When I first moved here, the site across the road frm my house, which is now a campus of Napier University, was home to the Thomas Clouston Clinic, a low-security outpost of the REH.
As for public meetings having to be held in an effort to reassure worried locals, having attended the meetings as the then secretary of my local residents' association I can report that the worries were more about the funnelling of construction traffic along narrow roads (near that primary school...) than with the nature of the future occupants. Of course the purpose of the building was an issue we considered, but as I say, we've all got used to having a major mental hospital on our doorstep.
I'll give the last word to commenter #15 (theredwizard) on the Scotland on Sunday
article:Some of the previous comments are purely offensive and illustrative of the ignorance, prejudice and discrimination still prevalent in Scottish society. These decisions are just, not taken lightly and in accordance with legislation passed in Scotland not Brussels. Not everyone in the State Hospital have committed criminal offences and many would have exhausted a period of imprisonment imposed by a court and spent in prison, long ago. These PEOPLE deserve to progress to conditions of lesser security and deserve our support in their recovery
And so say all of us.