Judge hits out over sentencing options

A senior Norfolk judge yesterday hit out at the lack of provision for mentally ill criminals as he was forced to jail a persistent offender because he had “nowhere else to go”.

A senior Norfolk judge yesterday criticised the lack of provision for mentally ill criminals as he was forced to remand a persistent offender to jail because he had "nowhere else to go".

Judge Peter Jacobs called for Home Office officials to visit Norwich Crown Court to explain why, at a time when the nation's prisons are at full capacity, proper systems of care in the community were not in place.

Speaking at the sentencing of David Millward, of no fixed address, he said: "This is a classic example of lack of resources and the failure of care in the community.

"I have stark choice: I either put him back inside or let him out. They complain the prisons are overflowing and yet they offer no alternative."

Millward was due to be sentenced for the third breach of a restraining order that bars him from entering Watlington, near King's Lynn, where his mother lives. Millward has convictions, mainly for criminal damage and disorderly behaviour, dating back to 1992.

Prosecutor Malcolm Robins said Millward had threatened to kill his mother. He said: "Police are called on a regular basis as his mother is frightened. The mere thought of him being there frightens her."

Most Read

The court, which received a psychiatric report, heard that Millward had been a voluntary patient at King's Lynn's Fermoy Clinic and had previously been detained under the Mental Health Act. The court was told his condition has deteriorated in recent months.

Mr Jacobs remanded Millward into custody until a solution to care for him in the community is found. Extra officers had to be called to the dock to restrain him.

"This defendant should take his medication under a regime which would ensure he takes it," Mr Jacobs said.

"If I turn him out, his mother is at the end of her tether and has had enough. If I turn somebody out and they re-offend, I am then criticised for letting them out. I am not prepared to release him unless there is a regime in place.

"This is a classic example of how the system is failing. The system does not provide proper care in the community. If you are going to have care in the community, you must have proper residential care for people like him.

"He should not be in prison, but no-one comes up with any alternative. Every year I have a couple of dozen such cases like this and I say the same things and nothing ever happens."

Millward will appear again on April 13, by which time Mr Jacobs hopes an alternative to prison will be found.