Violent mental health patient hands himself in

John Howard Centre in Hackney

John Howard Centre in Hackney - Credit: Archant

The fourth patient to abscond from the John Howard mental health secure unit in as many months, returned voluntarily a day after he ran off.

Police advised the public to call 999 immediately should they see James Rehill, 42, who they warned could be violent, after he gave his minders the slip in Homerton Road on Wednesday of last week while on escorted leave from the centre in Kenworthy Road, Homerton.

Rehill, who was detained under the Mental Health Act, was last seen boarding a bus towards Leyton, but gave himself up the following evening.

Last month managers at the centre announced they will adopt the idea of tagging patients on escorted leave, after the third man went missing this year, again in as many months.

The month previously the Gazette asked Dr Paul Gilluley, head of forensic services at the centre, if tagging patients had ever been considered, and he said no.

But he said management would consider the idea, which was supported by MP Meg Hillier, as well as the police, who said they would also raise the issue with the unit.

Electronic tagging surveillance is due to introduced this summer.

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The centre, which specialises in caring for detainees with personality disorders, has been the subject of multiple investigations due to the number of escapes.

A Freedom of Information request revealed 200 criminals have absconded whilst under the care of the medium secure psychiatric unit in the past decade.

Last month Dr Gilluley apologised for the incidents, saying: “I acknowledge the offender’s history would frighten the public, particularly relating to the sexual offences, but in all those cases we have tried to manage the risks while rehabilitating back into the community.”

Peter Kerrigan, 26, an Irish Traveller dubbed one of “Britain’s most prolific burglars” who would target vulnerable pensioners dressed as a police officer, is still at large after going AWOL in March.

In October child snatcher Shane Hart, 54, went missing for two days and in June rapist Samuel Lee absconded for three days.