Opened as an overflow facility for Broadmoor Hospital in 1912, Rampton Asylum was built in the countryside of Nottinghamshire near the village Woodbeck. It houses approximately 400 patients, all whom require high security care and have been detained under the Mental Health Act. Out of the three high-security psychiatric hospitals in Britain, the others being Ashworth and Broadmoor, Rampton holds the only remaining Dangerous and severe Personality Disorder Unit, named the Peaks Unit. The history of the hospital whispers of abuse and neglect, while the present day Rampton screams of the notable patients held there.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Broadmoor Hospital was the only high-security psychiatric hospital in Britain, and it was becoming increasingly overcrowded. Staff were over-worked and the patients suffered both abuse and neglect, and it became clear to the state that another hospital was required. The northern setting of Nottinghamshire was selected as the ideal location for the new hospital. The serene countryside and fresh water supply were outstanding features, and the 300 bed facility was constructed in just over three years. Designed by the architect Frances William Troup, The building consisted of:
- Three wards
- A workshop (for upholsterers, shoemakers and tailors)
- A laundry room
- A kitchen
- Sewing room
- Sewage plant
- Boiler house
The first 128 patients were transferred from Broadmoor Hospital, and it was manned by a skeleton staff of just 21. In just six years, the hospital had grown exponentially, and expanded to include a farm and a boundary wall, separating the facility’s grounds from the outside world.
Hundreds of animals were kept on the farm, such as cows, pigs and poultry, and vegetables were produced on mass to create a working environment for the patients and an additional source of income for the hospital. Housing for the staff was built predominantly in the 1920s-30s, providing them with additional features such as:
- Football fields
- Rugby pitch
- Cricket field
- Tennis courts
- Dance hall
Expansion continued on until 1939, and by this point the vast majority of the estate buildings in use had been constructed. The official patient count totalled 1,300, but the rise in staff did not follow. The staff to patient ratio was at an all time low, showing 13 to one on the majority of wards and villas. The patients were often neglected, and it was during this period when patient escapes were excruciatingly common. The 1930s also saw the introduction of a children’s section to the hospital, where the average patient age was around 12 years.
Changes to the running of the hospital began in 1948 when the Ministry of Health took ownership of the facility, and the Children’s section was closed down. The Mental Health Act of 1959 came into fruition, and for the first time, Rampton was given a clear role and definition as a ‘Special’ Hospital. The Department of Health and Social Security took over the running of the facility, and review tribunals were set in place to check up on the patients’ care. The 1960s brought along Enoch Powell, the Minister of Health who labelled Rampton as the ‘showplace of the department’ and provided the hospital with additional funding to add further extensions. A sports complex with a gymnasium and outdoor area was built, alongside a swimming pool and a chapel for the religious patients.
The predominantly closed institution was renowned for its secrecy and closed-doors activity, but it was not until May 1979 that dark tales of abuse emerged. A documentary entitled ‘Rampton, The Secret Hospital’ was aired on Yorkshire Television that summer, and it highlighted the cruelty and neglect administered to the patients by the staff. This earth-shattering expose film was awarded an International Emmy, and has a place in the top ten television programmes of all time. Unfortunately, this film is now a rare artefact that can only be viewed in London with advanced booking. At the time, the public were outraged with the findings of the documentary, and a follow-up was televised just weeks later.
The second programme showed that apart from a small amount of scapegoat prosecutions, and the tense atmosphere, no changes had been implemented since the previous airing. These damning reports forced the commissioners to launch an investigation into the inner workings of the hospital, lasting over three years.
The Boyton Committee
The head commissioner, Sir John Boyton and his team discovered a trail of mistreatment lasting several decades. Working groups were sent in to interview each member of staff, which took over a year to complete. The ultimate finding was that both security and treatment needed much improvement, recommending a complete review of the management of the hospital. The main changes were recommended to be:
- Introducing flexible timetables and regimes to wards
- Individual care plans for each patient
- As opposed to the strict uniform, the report indicated that staff should be dressed in a more casual style, to ease the boundaries a little between the staff and patients
- Wider communication between the hospital and the community
- Increase the activity between male and female patients
After the inquiry, education become a focal point of the hospital. In the early 1970s, classrooms were built for patients, followed by a staff education centre in 1976. However, as the 1980s approached, a decrease in referrals from the courts meant that the population of Rampton began diminishing. Figures show there were around 800 patients at the beginning of the decade, but in ten years that number dropped to 550.In 1989, the Special Hospitals Service Authority took charge of the hospital, as opposed to the Mental Health Act Commissioners. New regimes and plans for the hospital were created, including the need for higher levels of both security and care. Rampton gained a substantial capital investment, allowing for further expansion.
In 1991, the Rosedale Centre (now known as Dukeries) was opened to provide occupational therapy for both genders with learning disabilities. Costing £2.3 million, the centre has its own sensory relaxation environment, providing patients with a ‘Snoezelen room.’ This form of therapy is called Controlled multi-sensory environment (MSE), and the rooms are designed to introduce stimuli to a number of senses through the use of colour, sounds, scents and lighting effects. Such rooms are renowned for people suffering from a range of developmental disabilities and autism.
Early, specific treatments are widely unknown at Rampton Asylum, although this period in mental health indicates that occupational
therapy was the primary source of treatment. Patients were known to work in the grounds of Rampton, sewing upholstery, or working in the farm picking vegetables. Records show that Rampton began using psycho-surgery in January 1947, including the lobotomy and electro shock treatment. During this year, a total of 20 patients underwent surgery at Rampton, including a 14 year old child, and resulted in one fatality. As with the vast majority of psychiatric hospitals, Rampton began using anti-psychotic medication as a form of treatment in the 19550s/60s.
Former patient, Edna Martin stayed at Rampton during World War II in1943, staying for over a decade. She described her time at the hospital to The Guardian:
“Rampton was worse than being in prison. Bedtime was between 6pm and 7pm, and then the doors were locked until 8am. There was no privacy. There were two baths, and the nurse would stand in the middle and, all the time, she’d be passing remarks about your body. They thought nothing of giving you a cold water bath for punishment. Or they’d get a wet bath towel, put it under a cold tap, twist it, and hit you with it. I was very angry, because I knew I shouldn’t have been in those places, but my grandfather had said he wanted me locked up for ever, so I thought that was what would happen. We knew there was a war going on, but that was it. My brother said he was trying to get me out, and I went before, like, a committee, and they said “Do you want to go?” but I’d got that institutionalised I didn’t know whether I did or not.”
The Yorkshire Television programme ‘Rampton, The Secret Hospital’ was aired in May 1979 brought about a range of allegations against the staff at Rampton Hospital. Patients claimed to have been kept naked at times, after being brutally beaten, strangled with wet towels and kicked with hobnail boots. A influx of other allegations against the staff rose to light as the documentary continued, ranging from theft to physical and mental abuse. The media and public alike were outraged and appalled, demanding an investigation into the management of Rampton. Many issues were found at the hospital, including flaws in treatment and security, and were gradually addressed over a period of years.
Reed II Report
In 1994, an expert group led by Dr John Reed publicised a report containing a number of changes which were recommended to all thee high security hospitals. The main purpose of the changes were to integrate the special hospital services closer to the standard mental health services, whilst ensuring the safety of everyone involved, including the local communities. The Special Hospitals Service was replaced by a National High Security Psychiatric Services Commissioning Board, within the NHS in 1995. This meant that a greater responsibility was placed on the hospital’s staff, allowing them to develop patients care accordingly.
Charter Mark Award
In February 2000, Rampton was awarded with the much sought-after Charter Mark Award. Recognising the achievements and improvements undertaken at Rampton, this award was a demonstration of how Rampton has developed from a mental asylum, to a psychiatric hospital. It became part of the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust in 2001 and is now renowned for its prestigious patients, instead of the staff.
Beverley Allitt – A female serial killer and nurse, Allit was convicted of murdering four children, attempting to murder three other children, and causing grievous bodily harm to a further six children in the children’s ward in which she worked. She was given a minimum sentence of 30 years and sent to Rampton Hospital to carry it out.
Bruce George Peter Lee – A notorious arsonist, Lee was convicted of 26 counts of manslaughter after confessing to burning down a house with a mother and three sons. He was given a life sentence in 1981 and sent immediately to Park Lane Special Hospital. He was transferred at a later date to Rampton Secure Hospital.
Ian Ball – A 26 year old burglar who ambushed Princess Anne’s car in London in March 1974, Ball was imprisoned under the Mental Health Act. He fired six shots before he was taken down by police and detained at Rampton Hospital.
Ian Huntley – Responsible for the Soham murders, Huntley killed Holly Marie Wells and Jessica Aimee Chapman, both aged 10 and dumped their bodies near the town of Lakenheath in Suffolk. Huntley worked at the girls’ local school as a caretaker, and shocked the world when he was found guilty of murder in 2005. He was given a life sentence, with a minimum of 40 years imprisonment. Upon arrest, Huntley was sent to Rampton for a mental assessment, where doctors decided he was fit and competent to stand trial, and to be found guilty of his actions. He serves the rest of his sentence in prison.
Mark Rowntree – A notorious spree killer, Rowntree was convicted of four counts of murder in 1975 and 1976. He was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and was committed to Rampton Secure Hospital for an indefinite period. He was later sent to St Luke’s Hospital in Middlesbrough, which was demolished in 2010 to make room for the new psychiatric complex known as Roseberry Park.
Peter Bryan – An English serial killer and cannibal who committed three murders between 1993 and 2004. He was first sent to Rampton in 1994 after admitting to beating a shop assistant to death with a hammer. Gradually, his care levels and security were dropped, allowing him to murder another two people. One one occasion, he was found by police cooking his victims brain in a frying pan, and Bryan confessed that he planned to eat this third victim also, but was caught before he had the opportunity.
10/03/2014 – Patient Found Dead in Hospital
Theresa Riggi, convicted of murdering her three children in 2011 has been found dead in Rampton Hospital. Nottinghamshire police officers were called to the hospital at approximately 2.00am to deal with her death, and a spokesman claimed Riggi’s death to be “unexplained but non-suspicious.”
Riggi was convicted in April 2011 of killing her five year old daughter, Cecilia and her eight-year-old twin sons, Austin and Gianluca. She claimed each of her children were victims to a horrendous house fire, but in reality, she stabbed them eight times each, lit the fire herself, them jumped out of the second-floor flat in a suicide attempt.
During her trial, it emerged that Riggi suffered from paranoid and hysterical personality disorders, and had become increasingly possessive of her children. This contributed to the breakdown of her marriage, and her husband, Pasquale Riggi, left and began a strenuous custody battle with Theresa. She was convicted of culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment.
At her sentencing in the high court of Glasgow, Riggi was told she suffered from a “genuine but abnormal and possessive love” for her children. She had subjected her children to “a truly disturbing degree of violence”, and was guilty of a “ghastly and grotesque” act.
At the moment, very few details of Theresa Riggi’s death have been released. Check back later for further updates!
17/04/2014 – Hospital Resident Found Guilty of the Murder of Girlfriend.
In June 2013, pizza delivery driver, Hussein decapitated his 18 year old girlfriend, Reema Ramzan at his home in Sheffield. Police were called to his home after neighbours spotted Hussein walking naked on the road, covered in blood. When police arrived at the property, they found Reema stabbed to death in Hussein’s kitchen. She had been stabbed repetitively in the chest before she was decapitated, and wore defensive wounds on her hands and arms.
When paramedics approached Hussein, it became apparent that he had also stabbed himself in the chest. When they attempted to treat him, he asked: “Why are you helping me? I’ve murdered someone.”
He was taken to the Northen General Hospital, where he attacked many members of staff who were attempting to treat him. He assaulted police officers, an anaesthetist and a surgeon. He was taken to prison to await his trial, but was transferred to Rampton Secure hospital after only a month, due to concerns over his state of mind.
During Hussein’s trial, it was discovered that Reema’s family did not approve of the relationship between her and Hussein. They told the court of how they called the police on him, as he was threatening to show them all sexual pictures he had taken of Reema. Her brother, Sohail also reported his argument with Hussein when he spotted red marks around his sister’s neck.
Aras Hussein plead not guilty on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but was found by the jury guilty regardless. He was given a life sentence at Sheffield Crown Court, and was told he must serve a minimum of 20 years before he can be eligible for parole.