Peter Dale, Executive Producer Rare Day
Making a documentary about forensic psychiatry has been an ambition of mine/Rare Day’s for many years. It’s such a vital part of NHS mental health services yet we know so little about it.
We see the headlines in the papers and feel repelled and fascinated by the crimes committed by people who are seriously, mentally disturbed. We wonder what could bring someone to do what they’ve done but we hope someone, somewhere, manages to contain them.
What’s extraordinary to me is that the staff of SLaM Forensic Services not only contain people who are a danger to the public. Their job is to try and make them well and safe enough to one day rejoin the community they’ve harmed.
We were drawn to the forensic teams SLaM because of the great work that was featured in the Channel 4 award-winning series, Bedlam. Those humane and sensitive documentaries gave an amazing insight into how debilitating mental illness can be and how staff try to bring those patients back to a healthy existence.
So we asked: could we do the same for a branch of NHS treatment that is far less well known and much harder to understand? A secure forensic unit? And SLaM seemed like the obvious place to ask.
18 months on, thanks to the openness and professionalism of the Trust, we’ve made a programme that I think gives a rare and surprising insight into this little known area of the NHS.
We couldn’t have done it without the patients who, despite having committed some appalling crimes, have been prepared to share the issues they struggle with and their hopes for the future. And we couldn’t have done it without the teams of dedicated staff who bring their expertise to trying to help patients regain some kind of insight into what they’ve done and what they need to do to one day rejoin the outside world.