To consider an update on proposals from the West London Mental Healthcare Trust regarding the hospital’s escape alert sirens and an update on the operation of the school’s cascade system. (20 minutes)
The Committee considered an update report on the future of the Broadmoor Hospital escape alert sirens and supporting information as set out on Agenda pages 47 to 55.
Kevin Jacob, Principal Democratic Services Officer presented the report to the Committee.
Members’ attention was drawn to:
· A copy of a letter from the Steve Shrubb, Chief Executive of the West London Mental Health Trust, (WLMHT) to Councillor Ian Leake dated 27 January 2015 which stated that the WLMHT had decided to retain all of the current community based sirens until the completion of the new Broadmoor Hospital site and realignment of the perimeter fence in 2019. After that the community sirens were to be decommissioned and a new siren installed on the entrance building to the new hospital;
· A copy of a letter from Steve Shrubb to Kevin Jacob, Principal Democratic Services Officer in response to an enquiry about an Independent on Sunday article concerning security at the hospital in 2013. The letter stated the WLMHT categorically refuted the claims made in the newspaper and that the article was inaccurate;
· Additional responses received from schools in response to a request for information of when schools had last received a test escape alert through the schools cascade system. Two schools had confirmed that they had received test alert calls, but two schools could not confirm this;
· A copy of the school’s cascade as shown on Agenda page 55;
· That discussion was planned to review the school cascade system, but the outcome of the discussions were not yet known.
Various Members commented that they were pleased that the WLMHT had taken the decision to retain the existing community sirens until the completion of the new hospital and it was felt that this was a successful outcome in the circumstances that would allow for other work to continue on alternative alert mechanisms to be developed, for instance through the Community Safety Partnership. It was not felt that given the Trust was able to take the final decision itself that it would be appropriate to seek to take the issue any further.
Members of the Committee who had undertaken a visit to the hospital again commented how useful and reassuring the visit had been in terms of the security of the hospital. In many areas the security at the site was felt to be state of the art, but it remained important for the hospital to work with and support its local community in accepting the eventual withdrawal of the community sirens. It was suggested that it might be useful to have the opportunity to revisit the new hospital on its completion to see the new facilities and security arrangements.
With regard to the allegations about governance raised about the WLMHT in The Independent on Sunday article it was felt likely that the Department for Health would be monitoring the situation.
In discussion it was suggested that an update report be sought from Officers after 6-12 months on progress in developing alternative alert mechanisms that would be triggered in the event of a major emergency, such as an escape from the hospital. It was felt that it was very important for local residents to be aware of whatever the arrangements were.
1) That the Committee notes the additional correspondence between the West London Mental Health Trust and the Chairman of the Bracknell Forest Overview and Scrutiny Commission concerning the future of the alert sirens;
2) That the Committee notes the correspondence to Kevin Jacob from the West London Mental Health Trust in response to a press article;
3) That the Committee notes further responses in respect of Wokingham schools part of the schools cascade system;
4) That Officers within the Community Resilience Team be asked to provide an update on emergency alert mechanisms, (including the circumstance of an escape from Broadmoor Hospital) in Autumn 2015;
5) That the West London Mental Health Trust be informed that the Committee would welcome the opportunity to visit the new Broadmoor Hospital on its completion.