Cautious Welcome for Sex Offenders Decision

No sex offenders will be admitted to a controversial new mental health unit in a Gwent village. Partnerships in Care, who are converting Beechwood House, in Goytre, near Abergavenny, from a rehabilitation unit for people with brain injuries to a specialist unit for people with mental health disorders, took the decision following a campaign by residents.

The private firm, who run Llanarth Court Hospital, near Raglan, had stated that the only patients with criminal convictions they would not place at the new unit would be paedophiles.

But they performed a U-turn after campaigners launched a petition signed by hundreds of people to protest against the proposal. David Davies, MP and AM for Monmouth, backed the campaign.

More than 200 protestors also packed out Goytre village hall earlier this year to meet bosses from Partnerships in Care to air their views.

Particular concerns were raised as to whether it was safe to house such patients at Beechwood House because it is close to Goytre Fawr Junior and Infants’ School.

But after reviewing the situation, the company has decided no sex offenders will now be placed there when the unit, to be re-named Aderyn, opens on October 2.

Paul Henddy, director of Clinical Services at Partnerships in Care, said: “Due to the particular location of this unit to the community and school we have listened to the concerns of the local population and have concluded that anyone convicted of any sex offences should not be placed at the particular unit.

“It is important that people understand that the patients will be thoroughly risk assessed before being referred.

“Patients will not be moved there if they are not ready to be cared for in a rehabilitation setting.”

One campaigner, Helen Oliver, is a governor at the school.

She said: “This is the first piece of good news we have had and we are very pleased. They seem to have accepted that the placement of sex offenders must be appropriate to the location of the unit.”

But she said the residents still had concerns, such as the number of staff on duty at the unit and the fact that it will not be locked during the day. There are expected to be 17 patients placed at the unit, and seven staff.

She added: “Up to 50 per cent of patients could be criminals, mixed up with other patients who are not criminals. That is absolutely shocking.”

Mrs Oliver is also worried that even though no sex offenders will be housed at Aderyn, that does not mean that murderers and other serious offenders will not.