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 bullet.JPG (1011 bytes) Janet Cresswell in Broadmoor

After spending 27 years in Broadmoor, Crowthorne, Berkshire – a high security mental hospital –  on Tuesday 8 July 2003 Janet Cresswell was transferred to Thornford Park, a medium secure mental hospital, also in Berkshire.  Janet was 45 when she was sent to Broadmoor, she is now 72.

On 9 June 2002, the Independent on Sunday newspaper started a mental health campaign focussing on the proposed changes to the Mental Health Act.  Janet was featured in its first story and she has been referred to frequently in subsequent stories.  

(This also tied in with a programme broadcast on UK Channel 5 on 23 July 2002 which also featured Janet.  See “INSIDE BROADMOOR”  message on mentalmagazine discussion board for more details.)

Go to and put “Janet Cresswell”,  “mental health campaign” or “Broadmoor” in the “search this site” box to find all stories.
For stories and letters Sunday, 14 July go to: on Janet Cresswell, 16 June:
The article refers to information on this website but does not mention Mental Magazine uk itself.
For background about Janet Cresswell, read THIS page, go to archives (messages) on the mentalmagazine discussion board and look in the Files section of the mentalmagazine discussion board for more articles by and about Janet Cresswell.  Read Janet’s acclaimed play “The One-Sided Wall” performed in London’s Bush Theatre in 1989 and the interview with Janet in the London Evening Standard that explains how the play came to be written.  

Writer and performer Nikki Johnson contacted Janet after seeing an article in The Sunday Times in 1987, and together they wrote “The One-Sided Wall” which is the story of how Janet came to be in Broadmoor and has stayed there.

There is no evidence that Janet is suffering from any form of mental disorder – and in an ITV This Week programme broadcast in 1991 about the inappropriate detention of many women in two of the Special Hospitals – Broadmoor and Ashworth – called “Insane Justice”. Dr Chandra Ghosh said of Janet: “It’s very difficult to decide why she was put in a hospital and in fact what psychiatric help she could have been offered.  It’s obvious that she hasn’t been offered any help.  All we’ve done is actually locked her up.” The programme also stated that a Mental Health Review Tribunal had said she must leave the hospital nearly four years previously.  

Nevertheless, the hospital wrote telling me that Janet is suffering from “classic symptoms of a major mental illness”

Although I have known about Janet Cresswell since 1987 when –  I read the Sunday Times article, I only contacted her in May 2000 after seeing her name published in the Department of Health November 1999 Report of the Expert Committee into the Review of the Mental Health Act 1983. Janet was listed as one of the people who had submitted comments about the proposed reforms. (See Maudsley debate on 5 July 2001 and News about the consultation on government proposals in the Draft Bill.) 

I have visited Janet many times in Broadmoor and have a large number of letters from her mostly handwritten, as well as the stories and articles I have published on the net. Since May 2000 I have been corresponding with her doctor, the hospital authorities, the Home Office, her MP Glenda Jackson and another MP who is on the Health Select Committee, Eileen Gordon, and the Mental Health Act Commission.  In May 2001, I had a personal meeting with Janet’s Responsible Medical Officer (RMO) and have also visited the ward she is on and talked to the staff there. 

(Before I set up this website) on 7 September 2000, I sent a message about Janet to five Internet mental health discussion boards. You can see this – the first message – and other messages about and from Janet on the MMuk discussion board.  You can also find the “user survey” she conducted from within Broadmoor in 1993 and other stories and articles in the Files section of the noticeboard.  These include “What’s New?” her thoughts on the proposed changes to the 1983 Mental Health Act – in her view all the new legislation will achieve is to remove the necessity for clinicians to invent a mental disorder to warrant detention.

Janet is detained under the 1983 Mental Health Act and is therefore being held illegally since the authorities can provide no information to substantiate that she is either a danger to the general public nor that she is suffering from any form of mental disorder.

The misapplication of the 1983 Mental Health Act is, in my opinion, why our mental health services are so appalling.  You can read more on the page dealing with mental health law and policies.

 The following article is reproduced from the Sunday Times colour supplement of March 1987 – “A Day in the Life of….”   This feature still appears and is always the last page of the magazine.)  
Like me, writer and performer Nikki Johnson read and kept this story and contacted Janet.  They went on to write “The One Sided Wall”.

The story reproduced below was written by Janet Cresswell who at the time of the article had been already been an inmate of Broadmoor for 10 years, having been sent there in 1976 at the age of 45.  This article is to be repubished by The Sunday Times in September 2003, one of a few selected from the many pieces published over the years.  The reason it came to be written is that Janet read “A Life in the Day of Delia Smith” (the tv cookery guru) and thought her life was more interesting!  

Janet Cresswell, sent to Broadmoor 10 years ago, describes what its like to be an inmate

Janet Cresswell

Janet Cresswell, 55, was sent to Broadmoor 10 years ago for wounding a psychiatrist in protest at authorities’ refusal to investigate the cause of her psychiatric problems. She was born in Bushey, Herts and went to Watford Grammar. She worked as a secretary and married an architect In 1956, but divorced seven years later; they have one daughter

The doors open and the lights go on at 7am. I don’t get up then but wait for those who want a fag (they have to be washed and dressed to warrant a light) to get out of the way in the wash room. I could never understand the point of getting up at all if there was nothing useful to do, but those at Broadmoor feel differently. I bless my neurotic mother whose cigarette cravings made me a non-smoker since the age of seven.

After breakfast at eight my friend and I play Scrabble: it helps pass boredom time while medication is dispensed. Another friend goes through the Times and Telegraph crosswords and passes them over when she’s finished. It puzzles me that there is so little outcry against psychiatric medicines – I have needed three gynae operations to counteract the drugs I was forced to have some years ago. What a funny National Health Service it is that pays money for having babies in an overcrowded society, gives free heart transplants, sex changes and psychiatry, but charges at a premium for dentistry and glasses.

When ‘All work areas and school’ is called over the Tannoy we assemble until our escorts are ready and the nurse on radio control has signaled we can move. Chaos reigns until we are at work. I am in the sewing room, but not because I can sew. When I am not employed replacing buttons for kitchen overalls or turning up nurses’ uniforms, I perform some other form of handiwork acceptable to the institution. Before I came to Broadmoor, for stabbing a psychiatrist in the backside, I regarded myself as useless at handiwork. After 10 years I still feel I am useless at it but now accept that Broadmoor does not want me to do anything I am good at.

After lunch I make a pot of tea for the ward and sometimes get a reprimand for giving some to the old ladies who reside in the dormitory. They wee improperly but I think it is cruel to deprive them of a hot drink on that account. Time passes quickly here although there is little to show for it. The pace of nothing consists of a round of social and games events which take precedence over work, last on the list of priorities after visits to the hairdresser’s, private visits, school, group therapy and anything else that can be conjured up. The summer is more regimented than the winter as we are made to go en masse into the garden, often for hours on end, with nothing to do. Security is so paranoid that even knitting is prohibited there. Rainy summers, therefore, are not unpopular with many.

Once a fortnight, we women are driven to revolution point when volunteer men come over for a chat. This is called a games evening, and the women have to attend – even those in bath chairs. This is one of the few forced social events and a case for women’s liberation. However, as the issue is a trivial example of arrogance towards human rights, we do not complain too bitterly. Most of us realize that the social functions are more to justify staff employment than entertain us.

I don’t believe in religion, but was surprised that one visitor, whose aim was a spiritual world and getting me out of Broadmoor, was banned from seeing me. Frankly, I can think of nothing worse than a spiritual world, except a medical one, but my visitor was of the opinion that if I could believe in something then some group would get interested in me and get me out. He felt that individuals did not have a chance. One or two friends did make approaches to the Home Office. I didn’t think I would be in Broadmoor 10 years and am resigned to never having justice at all.

We have mounds of official visitors round from various parts of the empire. Guessing who they are is a game that has palled with such repetition. The police bound in like football teams, magistrates look tweedily well-dressed, health visitors clean and well-spoken, social workers and psychiatric nurses are usually a mixed, scruffy bunch, frequently clutching plastic bags as though on an outing to Brighton, while doctors, MPs and reps from the Home Office and DHSS are shown round in small parties escorted by what is termed ‘the hierarchy’. One wonders what they have come to see.

One day there were 20 social workers from Hackney – I can recall no business firm which can manage with so many of its personnel missing on a day’s outing. Last week there were four different parties here, including a batch of Japanese, complete with cameras and an interpreter. I wondered aloud if they were here to boost the British tourist industry and one patient rushed up to them to ask who they were. ‘Doctors’ was the reply.

Mug shots are renewed each time we change hairstyle, or every five years. One woman was recently photographed in each of her five wigs, but my hair grows so quickly that I merely have mine taken at the statutory time. So determined am I to conform to Broadmoor’s description of me that I make myself look as awful as possible without actually drawing attention to myself. I screw up my nose ever so slightly and lift one side of my mouth to produce a sort of hare-lip effect. l am quite convinced that, in the event of my escape, my blown-up picture would precipitate the most anti member of the public to co-operate with the police.

One recent escapee, a friend from the room next door whom I miss enormously, has a gentle face and her photo on television gave the reverse impression of the description given of her. Looking far more manic, the MP who appeared on BBC raved that killers should not be allowed on outings from Broadmoor. I quite agree with him, but realize his definition of who is a danger to the general public is somewhat exaggerated. My friend hopped off from an outing when reaching the underwear section of Marks & Spencer. While the police were looking for her I wondered if she was having breakfast at Fortnum’s. The question of outings is a tricky one, the policy of mixing hard-luck cases with the hardened ones is difficult to explain.

The notice board in the corridor has inherited one more bit of paper, this time the tennis draw for the female wing. We’ve not played tennis for years and the sudden enthusiasm is difficult to fathom. The fellow who has arranged the draw has made three to appear in the finals – perhaps he is changing the game to pig in the middle.

The library van comes over (from the male side) once a fortnight – it has been out of action for some weeks – and books on prison life are well read. Charriere’s Papillon and Ranco remind us that Devil’s Island has been closed as a penal colony and things here could be worse. Solzy-whatshisname’s Gulag and similar amaze me – how did he maintain that writing style through thousands of pages? How similar are the thoughts of prisoners east and west. I have just finished a book sent to me from the States which compares psychiatry under Hitler and in America today. It’s interesting reading and I wonder who I dare lend it to.

I pass the time playing cards, reading, knitting and so on. I am rarely sad to get locked up again at 9pm. I don’t have night sedation, issued just beforehand. I have a clear conscience and mostly the only things that keep me awake are the floodlighting the builders have erected outside and also the flashing of the nurses’ torches and their heavy foot-steps as they come round on their night inspection.

(c) Times Newspapers Ltd, 1987.



“After a lifetime in Broadmoor (mental hospital), the writer Janet Creswell is free at last”

Woman whose case inspired ‘IoS’ campaign tells of her joy at release – and her enduring anger

By Sophie Goodchild, Chief Reporter

Sunday, 21 January 2007


High Security Hospitals: Janet Creswell has been in for 22 years.
If she admits she’s mad, they’ll let her out
By Sophie Goodchild, Home Affairs Correspondent.

Sunday, 21 January 2007.

3. Janet Cresswell in The Independent on Sunday 16 June .

Today Janet Cresswell is featured in the ongoing IoS Investigation into the “Special Hospitals” – Broadmoor, Ashworth and Rampton. Last week’s Independent on Sunday featured “Paul” who has been in Broadmoor for 20 years.
Today, Janet Cresswell is mentioned in one of the articles pasted by Raymond from the wnusp board – below my message –
I have pasted the special story on Janet ( which included a picture of her taken in 1989 used in an article published in the London Evening Standard on 23 February 1989.. The text of the Evening Standard article can be found in the Files section of the Mental Magazine discussion board at .
Background information about Janet is on the Mental Magazine UK website .I have been campaigning for Janet for two years.
The journalist,Sophie Goodchild, emailed me on the day of her deadline for the story(Friday, 14 June), but I didn’t read the email till Saturday, so I was not involved with the article – although the story has clearly “lifted” some information from the website. The story is accurate apart from stating that Janet has been in Broadmoor for 22 years – she has actually been there for 26 years.
High Security Hospitals: Janet’s been in for 22 years. If she admits she’s mad, they’ll let her out.
By Sophie Goodchild, Home Affairs Correspondent.
16 June 2002.
No way out, even if patients have recovered.
Case study: Janet’s been in for 22 years. If she admits she’s mad, they’ll let her out.
Leading article: Mentally ill deserve better.
Janet Cresswell, like other patients held in Broadmoor, is not allowed glass in case she harms herself. On her 71st birthday this year, the writer had to use a plastic chamber pot to display the bouquet of freesias and carnations from her daughter.
For 22 years, she has lived amid child killers and serial murderers. Ms Cresswell has killed noone. She was sent to Broadmoor after taking a vegetable knife to her psychiatrist’s buttocks; a serious crime but not one that would normally carry a life sentence.
Ms Cresswell’s name does not appear on the hospital’s list of patients
deemed eligible for transfer to a bed in a medium secure unit. She refuses to go under the supervision of a Home Office psychiatrist. She refuses because, she says, she is not mad.
In a case reminiscent of Catch 22, as long as she insists she is not a dangerous psychiatric case, she will be detained as a potentially threatening mental case.
When this newspaper highlighted her case two years ago, Ms Cresswell was receiving neither medication nor psychotherapy. However, just days after the story was published, the grandmother was taken to the intensive care wing at Broadmoor and forced to take anti-psychotic medication against her will.
Since then, her privileges and those of other patients have gradually been eroded, beginning with a Home Office ban on patients in secure hospitals owning computers, a draconian measure imposed after male inmates at Ashworth hospital on Merseyside were found downloading internet pornography.
Before her word processor was confiscated, Ms Cresswell wrote letters,
essays and a play, The One Sided Wall, which was performed at London’s Bush Theatre. She won the Arthur Koestler prize for an essay on the history of Bedlam, the notorious lunatic asylum.
Until recently, one of Ms Cresswell’s favourite hobbies was bowls. When Broadmoor officials decided that men and women could not mix socially, her matches on the hospital’s bowling green came to an abrupt end.
In letters to mental health campaign groups, the hospital authorities have justified Ms Cresswell’s continued incarceration by telling them she is suffering from “classic symptoms of a major mental illness”.
Independent medical experts disagree. Professor Alec Jenner, a retired professor of psychiatry at Sheffield University, who has corresponded with Ms Cresswell, says she is “quite harmless”. Her flaw, he says, is that she is stubborn.
“If she had played ball with the authorities, then she could have been released a long time ago,” he said. “I can’t see any need for her to be staying there. But neither side is prepared to compromise enough for her to be released.”
Until a compromise is reached, her daughter Jane, a nurse, must tell her teenage grandchildren that Broadmoor is their grandmother’s home.
“They just want people to rebel and then have a reason for keeping them in there,” she said. “I’ve tried everything but I’m banging my head against a brick wall.
“It is so awful that I do not take my children. They are doing exams. I don’t want them to have stress. They speak to her on the phone and they just know that is where she lives.”
At Christmas in 2000, Ms Cresswell tried to commit suicide by hoarding her pills, but her daughter was not officially informed. Instead, she found out from night staff at Broadmoor.
“It’s going from bad to worse,” Ms Johnson said. “I got friendly with one of the nurses who had left the hospital. She told me someone had written a report to say my mother had smashed up the kitchen, but the nurses refused to sign it because it was untrue.
“They have to have a reason for keeping her in there.”
The Independent on Sunday approached Broadmoor for a comment on Ms Cresswell’s plight but the hospital refused to give one. “We are unable to comment on individual cases,” said a spokeswoman.
The poetry of privation.
People were dumped and stuck in the bin.
Found they couldn’t get out so kicked up a din.
‘Can’t stand that’ said the minders,
And found other jobs – like scouts for odd bobs.
So the minders’ minders got grim.
They searched through their statute books
For old tricks with new looks,
The crooks.
Try this and try that,
How tiresome of people to see through old hat.
Trying, tribunal, tri’s three and bin all.
No, not Triad, tribunal, try gooning for all, annually.
Shut everyone away, but make them all play.
And when they’re tired of the game turn away.
Shut away.
When tiredness wins out,
It’s the time to get out.
And start up the game a new way.
Janet Cresswell.
Broadmoor Special Hospital.
Leading voices call for change.
Erin Pizzey, founder of the first women’s refuge:
“Unless you are prepared to grovel to the authorities you are punished. If she [Janet Cresswell] had been assessed today, she would never have been sent to Broadmoor. I hope they see sense and let her out. I had a breakdown for three months; if you’re a woman people say you’re mad.”
Joan Bakewell, writer and broadcaster:
“We need people to be rehabilitated but prisons do not rehabilitate people.”
Baroness Kennedy QC, human rights campaigner:
“Mental health provisions in this country are simply not good enough. Unless people have champions on the outside it is very, very hard to get their cases properly examined. We also need to re-examine certain cases in light of developments in psychiatry.”
Lorraine Kelly, television presenter:
“I really welcome this campaign. Mental health seems to be at the bottom of a very long list of priorities. I would like to see more money being spent on trying to get patients out of these special hospitals. It would actually save the Government expense, but more importantly it would give people with mental illness a far greater quality of life.”
Jonathan Thompson and Sophie Goodchild
posted by Rosemary,
Surrey UK.
“Campaigning for good health and social care…it’s for everyone”.
From: “Raymond Wand” <raymondo@…>
To: <actmad@…>
Cc: <wnusp@…>
Sent: Sunday, June 16, 2002 8:38 AM
Subject: [wnusp] Scientist attacks ‘gutless’ mental health policy.
Independent NewsHigh-Security Hospitals: Scientist attacks ‘gutless’ mental health policy.
By Sophie Goodchild, Home Affairs Correspondent
16 June 2002
A leading scientist has attacked the Government for its “ignorant” and intellectually dishonest record on mental health policy.
Lewis Wolpert, Professor of Biology at University College London, said at least 50 MPs would have suffered depression but not one “has the guts to stand up and talk about it”.
“The Government are either totally ignorant or intellectually dishonest. It’s all about spin for them, and I find that nauseating,” said the broadcaster, a self-confessed depressive and user of the anti-depressant Seroxat.
Last week, The Independent on Sunday revealed that more than 400 patients in Britain’s high security mental hospitals should have been released years ago but remain locked up, because beds cannot be found for them outside.
The paper is campaigning for the transfer of these people to accommodation where they can be treated properly. Some forgotten prisoners have languished in places such as Broadmoor, Ashworth and Rampton for more than 20 years.
Our campaign is backed by senior politicians, mental health campaigners and other high-profile public figures who have experience of mental illness.
There are already more than 2,000 medium secure beds in NHS units across the country but most are already occupied. The Government has pledged £25m for a further 200 such beds, allowing patients to move out of high security psychiatric hospitals.
Health authorities have been ordered to complete the transfer of eligible patients by 2004. However, the Department of Health has acknowledged there are difficulties in moving inappropriately placed patients out of high security hospitals.
Health authorities have to foot the bill for these existing 2,000 secure beds and are reluctant to spend their already tight budgets on mental health provision.
Meanwhile, these patients on the transfer lists of Broadmoor, Ashworth and Rampton are occupying beds which should be given to mentally ill prisoners.
There are no official figures on how many prisoners should be in secure hospitals but there are more than 5,000 mentally ill people at any one time held in prison.
One case that highlights the plight of patients held in secure hospitals is that of Janet Cresswell, a writer who has been held in Broadmoor for more than 20 years.
Her word processor was confiscated under a Home Office ban on patients in secure hospitals owning computers, after internet abuse. The draconian measure was imposed after male inmates at Ashworth hospital on Merseyside were found downloading internet pornography.
Joan Smith, chair of the Writers in Prison Committee and a columnist for this newspaper, said Ms Cresswell’s case was particularly disturbing:
“She appears to have been punished for somebody else’s misdemeanors and denied a basic human right. If you’ve taken away someone’s liberty, one of the few things they have left is freedom of thought and expression,” Ms Smith said. “For many people in prison, writing is one of the most important things that they can do.”
Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat health spokesman and a former junior hospital doctor, said that mental health patients were “the lowest priority of the lowest priority”.
“There are people in Broadmoor and Ashworth who need not be there who could be in medium secure accommodation,” said the MP.
“Health authority beds are not centrally funded – they are expensive and they don’t have the resources to fund them. Women are particularly badly affected.”
Lord Avebury, Liberal Democrat peer and leading campaigner on human rights,has written to both the Home Office and the Department of Health to demand action.
“We may have provided extra beds but they are being occupied by these people who need to be transferred,” he said.
“The situation is still as bad as ever. And if you increase the size of the prison population, then you are going to get more psychiatric patients.”





Written by rudy2

June 14, 2010 at 21:13

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  1. […] N.B.  D’autres infos sur le calvaire vécu par Janet Cresswell ici ==> […]

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