25 February 2019

25th February 1957 - BBC Panorama discussion on Rampton Mental Hospital


On 25th February 1957 BBC Panorama featured a discussion about Rampton Mental Hospital in Nottingham, hosted by Chris Chataway. The programme brought together the editor of a Sunday newspaper that published allegations about the hospital and representatives of the Ministry of Health.

Rampton was (and is) a special lock up hospital for patients considered to need holding in conditions of high security. That could be because they were considered violent or they would otherwise run away.

Earlier in the month there had been a lot of coverage about increasing security after 2 inmates escaped from Rampton having got hold of a passkey. So the Ministry was criticised then for lapses of security, now they were being criticised for keeping people at Rampton who should not have been there, particularly children and women.

The Panorama programme discussed allegations from Peter Whitehead who had been in Rampton against his will for over ten years. He had been finally discharged after a long letter writing campaign. His story was published in 1958 in David Roxan's book Sentenced Without Cause. The book described among other things physical violence by staff to patients and difficulties securing his and other people's freedom. The Ministry criticised the book as sensational and irresponsible because it made the difficult work of the staff even harder.

Thankyou to The British Newspaper Archive for this date and the details.

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