22 Danger Men Escaped This Mental Health Clinic in 3 Years. CALL THAT SECURE? EXCLUSIVE FEARS FOR SAFETY OF PATIENTS AND THE PUBLIC FEARS FOR SAFETY OF PATIENTS AND THE PUBLIC

Article excerpt

Byline: BY FIONNUALA BOURKE

MORE than 20 dangerous psychiatric patients have absconded from a 'secure' mental health unit in the Midlands in the last three years, the Sunday Mercury can reveal.

One of them committed a criminal offence while on the run from Reaside clinic, in Rubery, Birmingham, and was later convicted in court. Another harmed himself after breaking free from staff at the NHS unit.

And a further patient spent four weeks on the run from the medium secure mental health unit, which has reported 22 escapes since 2004.

All the escapees are categorised as 'forensic' psychiatric patients, meaning they have committed a serious crime, such as murder, or shown seriously aggressive or threatening behaviour.

Three escaped from the unit's grounds, while the other 19 ran off while escorted by staff or during authorised unescorted leave.

Eighteen patients returned within 24 hours, either of their own free will or after being located by mental health staff, family members or the police.

They included Marcus Carter and Nathan Gillespie, who went on the run last December and who police labelled "a danger to themselves and others."

Carter, 19, from Longbridge, Birmingham, and Gillespie, 21, from Low Hill, Wolverhampton, were later recaptured and returned to Reaside.

Hostage

A year earlier two un-named patients attacked staff and tried to take a hostage in an attempted escape. It was reported that one grabbed a woman nurse and threatened to stab her with a pen unless they were allowed out.

Conservative Councillor Keith Burton, who represents the Longbridge ward where Reaside is based, spoke of his concerns at the escape figures.

"I am disappointed to hear that 22 people have absconded from the unit over the last three years," he said. …