Prisoners held under England's antiterrorism act face psychological damage
People detained under the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act are facing potentially irredeemable psychological damage, says a research report unveiled at a press conference in London, organised by the prisoners' lawyers, at the Royal College of Psychiatrists last week.
Eight detainees interned at London's Belmarsh Prison because of suspected links with terrorist groups were interviewed for the research. All showed symptoms of severe depression and anxiety, some exhibited psychotic behaviour, and in all cases their mental health was said to have drastically deteriorated during the period of their internment.
The interviews were done for the prisoners' legal counsel by a group of 12 forensic psychiatrists and one psychologist. But although the report was originally commissioned for legal purposes, the doctors “eventually realised that the prisoners shared common symptoms as a direct result of their predicament,” said Dr James MacKeith, forensic psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital, London. “We would be failing