Horror of siege at John Howard Centre secure ward revealed: Staff and police threatened with glass and missiles
PUBLISHED: 07:28 16 June 2016 | UPDATED: 07:28 16 June 2016
Horrifying details of a siege at Homerton’s John Howard Centre that saw six staff trapped in an office and fearing for their lives as five patients armed themselves with broken glass can today be revealed.
Police officers faced a barrage of missiles as they tried to access Westferry ward at the medium-secure facility in Kenworthy Road in the middle of the night last July 3.
They were commended by Borough Commander Simon Laurence for their bravery in defusing the serious disturbance, which saw other high-risk and potentially violent patients trying to escape the high security ward by smashing their way out of fire exits.
The Met’s taser-equipped Territorial Support Group was drafted in to help out local officers, who managed to lead the six members of staff out to safety and contain the violent suspects within the ward, with no one getting hurt.
Five men were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and false imprisonment and charged with public order offences. Two were sent to high security unit Broadmoor and three convicted of public order offences and sent to prison.
The incident, and the high number of patients who have absconded from the unit whilst on escorted leave, sparked an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission last October.
The centre’s chief will tonight be quizzed by local politicians over the inspection report, and is likely to face questions about the siege – whose details were not made public in the paper.
Just this week police renewed an appeal to trace prolific burglar Peter Kerrigan who went on the run 15 months ago, with a £1,000 reward being offered for information leading to his arrest.
The chair of the Health in Hackney scrutiny group has invited Dr Paul Gilluley, consultant forensic psychiatrist and head of forensic services for East London NHS Foundation Trust, to the meeting.
An ELFT spokeswoman said staff had followed the correct processes during the “very worrying and serious incident”, which are to “find a safe area, make it secure and call for assistance”.
She added: “Incidents like this are rare considering the complex needs of the patients cared for at the John Howard Centre.
“The CQC were very positive about risk management and processes in place at the unit.”
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