Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, may be released from the Broadmoor loony bin after having been signed off as low-risk.

Sutcliffe was given 20 life sentences in 1981 for the murder of 13 women between 1975 and 1980 across Yorkshire and in Manchester. He also attempted to kill 7 other women.

He was first sent to a normal prison but was sent sent to Broadmoor in 1984 after being confirmed as a schizophrenic.

Broadmoor is probably Britain's most notorious loony bin housing, amongst others, a man who tried to assasinate Queen Victoria, the man who was the inspiration behind Hannibal Lecter, London nail bomber Copeland, and the Moors Murderer Ian Brady.

Yorkshire Ripper 'fit to be released from Broadmoor'

By Daily Mail Reporter
18th February 2009
Daily Mail

'Model patient': Peter Sutcliffe, pictured in 1974, is thought to be no longer a threat

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe has been signed off as low-risk and could be released from Broadmoor, it was revealed today.

Doctors at the top security hospital have told lawyers for the killer - who murdered 13 women and tried to kill seven others in the 1970s and 80s - that he was no longer dangerous.

If Justice Secretary Jack Straw agrees with the classification, it could see him moved to a medium-security facility and eventually released, according to the Sun newspaper.

Sutcliffe, from Bradford, was jailed in 1981 for his murder spree across Yorkshire and in Manchester.

He was given 20 life sentences and was told by the judge that he would serve a minimum of 30 years.

He began his sentence in prison but three years later was diagnosed with schizophrenia and transferred to Broadmoor.

Last year his lawyer Saimo Chahal claimed the Home Office disregarded his human rights because they failed to formally fix a tariff for his sentence.

Ms Chahal, who specialises in civil liberties and social welfare as a partner at London-based Bindmans & Partners, also aimed to get Sutcliffe back into the prison system and has requested a reassessment of his psychiatric condition.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said she was unable to comment on individual cases.

The husband of Olive Smelt, one of Sutcliffe's surviving victims, said today that the couple believed the killer would be at risk of attack from members of the public if he was released.

Sutcliffe could soon be leaving Broadmoor, above, where he has been held since 1984

Harry Smelt, 84, said: 'There are people out there who would be happy to accept the notoriety gained from topping him. I think he would be at terrible risk from some of those nutters.'

But he said his wife had come to terms with the attack, and was unconcerned over Sutcliffe's potential release.

'She doesn't mind about what happens to him now at all. She's got to the stage where she couldn't care less,' he said.

Mr Smelt said personally he thought Sutcliffe should remain in prison, but he had lost faith in the legal and prison system many years earlier.

He said: 'He left 26 orphans, so how can anybody ever be punished for that adequately? The death sentence would have been too good for him. One just hopes that he rots in jail.

'The system is all wrong anyway, allowing him to get away with it all those years ago. We just sit and watch the merry-go-round over what happens to him now.'

Prostitute Helen Rytka, killed in 1978 in Huddersfield, and building society clerk Josephine Whitaker, right, killed in Halifax the following year, were just two of Sutcliffe's victims


The Broadmoor Siren

Ten o'clock, Broadmoor siren,
Driving me mad,
Won't leave me alone.

- The Members, 'Sound of the Suburbs'
Every Monday morning at ten o'clock the deafening sound of an air-raid siren disturbs the peace over a large area of the leafy commuter belt that is Berkshire, UK. The signal sounds the familiar alternating high-low note, followed by a constant all-clear note five minutes later.
It's not a re-enactment of the Blitz; it's a test of the escape alarm at the local mental hospital

, Broadmoor (external - login to view).

Broadmoor Hospital lies on the edge of the small town of Crowthorne, in an area of heathland known as Bracknell Forest. Escapees could presumably run in any direction, and there is a network of 13 sirens covering the surrounding towns of Sandhurst, Camberley, Bagshot, Bracknell (external - login to view) and Wokingham. Many units are mounted on high masts, and could easily be overlooked as mobile phone masts. The sirens are connected to the hospital by telephone lines, and it has been known for BT engineers to inadvertently set them off. Many are located in the vicinity of schools, although there is a separate system to alert all local schools should an inmate escape. In this event, each school has a set procedure to follow, which consists of locking the children inside until parents can come and collect them.

A Notorious History

Broadmoor Hospital was the country's first purpose-built asylum for the criminally insane, completed in 1863, and it currently houses 500 men and 120 women inmates. It was built under an act of Parliament to reform the poor conditions in institutions such as Bethlehem Hospital, aka Bedlam (external - login to view). Its imposing classical Victorian architecture was the work of Major General Joshua Jebb, a military engineer who is said to have based the building on two other hospitals - Wakefield and Turkey's Scutari Hospital.

One of four maximum security hospitals in the UK, Broadmoor has housed some of the UK's most notorious criminals and lunatics, including:

Artist Richard Dadd, best known for his painting The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke, which was immortalised in a song by Queen, and which inspired Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel The Wee Free Men.

'Stockwell Strangler', Kenneth Erskine, who in 1986 murdered 11 elderly people in their homes in Stockwell, South London.

Cannibalistic murderer Robert Mawdsley, the English Hannibal Lecter.

'The Surgeon of Crowthorne' and Oxford English Dictionary (external - login to view) contributor, William Chester Minor.

London nail bomber David Copeland, who in 1999 targeted ethnic minorities with devices in Brixton and the East End, and another which targeted the gay community in the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho.

'Yorkshire Ripper' Peter Sutcliffe, the lorry driver who murdered 13 women between 1975 and 1980.

Notorious London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

Ian Ball, who attempted to kidnap Princess Anne (external - login to view) in 1974.

Daniel McNaughton, who murdered prime minister Robert Peel's private secretary
Edward Drummond in 1843, a case which led to the McNaughton rules on criminal insanity (external - login to view).

Thallium poisoner (external - login to view), Graham Frederick Young.

Moors murderer (external - login to view) Ian Brady, who between 1963 and 1965 with his girlfriend Myra Hindley tortured and murdered five children from Manchester, burying four of them on Saddleworth Moor.

The Escape of JT Straffen

The siren was installed following a public outcry at the escape of child-murderer John Thomas Straffen in April 1952. Straffen had a history of mental illness and was sent to Broadmoor after he strangled two young girls in Bath in 1951. Six months later, Straffen went over the wall, with little difficulty, and walked away. In the nearby village of Arborfield he strangled five-year-old Linda Bowyer, who had been out for a ride on her bicycle. He was recaptured by police shortly afterwards.

Straffen was controversially tried, found guilty and initially sentenced to hang, but was reprieved by the Home Secretary, and sent instead to a series of maximum security prisons. He had the distinction of being Britain's longest-serving prisoner, eventually dying (external - login to view) behind bars on 19 November, 2007, at the age of 77.

Could It Happen Again?

Thankfully, escapes from Broadmoor have been very rare. The last major incident was the escape of child rapist James Saunders, nicknamed the Wolfman, who went on the run for the second time in 1991. Saunders sawed through a one inch thick steel bar and squeezed out of the window of a shower room on the third floor. He was recaptured two days afterwards.

The alarm was also sounded in 1993 after a stabbing incident inside the hospital, but it has not been sounded in anger since.

For all of this, Broadmoor's security track record is seen to be a good one, and security measures are being constantly improved, including the recent addition of a second perimeter fence. Local residents however will always be reminded on Monday morning at 10 o'clock that every parent's worst nightmare could one day happen again.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 18th, 2009 at 02:02 PM..