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High-Security Mental Health Unit Needed

6 May 2002

The escape of an "extremely dangerous" psychiatric patient at the weekend highlights the need for one of the country's secure mental health units to be classified high-security, says National's Justice spokesman, Wayne Mapp.

"There are five secure units, all with security levels comparable to a medium-security prison. This is the highest level of security for a mental health unit.

"The escape of Allan Ivo Greer from Porirua Hospital's secure mental health unit on Saturday raises urgent questions over the different levels of security for mentally ill patients.

"Given that some of these people in these institutions are unpredictable and highly dangerous, one of these units needs to have the equivalent of maximum security facilities in order to ensure public safety.

"We have special facilities for the highest risk prisoners in the general prison population, we need to have the same for the most dangerous people in secure units.

"Much emphasis is placed on the best interests of mentally ill patients, but public safety is just as important. I believe it is possible to address the issue of level of security of these patients, without conflicting with their clinical treatment needs," says Dr Mapp.


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