Segments in this Video

Broadmoor Hospital (03:26)


Broadmoor is a high-security psychiatric hospital known for housing some of Britain's worst criminals. Its history includes the use of lobotomies, ECT, and sleep deprivation. Today, it houses about 260 patients who stay for an average of six years.

History of Criminal Insanity (08:30)

Britain passed the Criminal Lunatics Acts in 1800, which allowed the government to send criminals deemed insane to mental hospitals. By 1863, local asylums could not handle the number of criminal patients and Broadmoor was built; Broadmoor kept detailed records of all patients.

Children at Broadmoor (02:24)

Under British law, children as young as 10 could be found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to Broadmoor. The youngest patient was a 10-year-old boy convicted of arson in 1885. He was never released and died at age 87 in hospital.

Insanity in British Law (05:21)

Insanity was defined in 1843 in response to a failed political assassination by a man deemed temporarily insane. Insanity was defined as an inability to reason because of a mental illness. Victorians believed meeting someone's needs in a controlled environment helped cure insanity.

Women at Broadmoor (02:03)

By the end of the Victorian Era, more than 200 women, most charged with infanticide, were housed at Broadmoor. Convictions for murder led to the death penalty or Broadmoor.

Changes at Broadmoor (06:49)

Broadmoor's purpose began to change in the 1900s. Medical treatments were favored over structured daily routines. The public began to see it as a place to keep dangerous people away from society.

Escapes from Broadmoor (03:27)

Numerous patients escaped during the early years of Broadmoor. After serial killer John Straffen escaped and killed a child in 1952, more than £50 million were spent on security upgrades; his escape changed the public's view on the hospital.

Broadmoor's Reputation (05:06)

In the 1960s, Broadmoor began housing more pedophiles and serial killers. It became infamous for housing Britain's worst criminals, like Robert Maudsley.

Treatments at Broadmoor (02:19)

Beginning in the 1950s, mental illness was thought to be caused by an overactive brain. Treatments, such as ECT, were used to calm patients' minds.

Nonviolent Broadmoor Patients (06:09)

Some of Broadmoor's criminal patients, like June and Jennifer Gibbons, are admitted for nonviolent crimes. Broadmoor also treats patients who are admitted for their own protection. Broadmoor stopped treating female patients in 2007 and now houses about 260 male patients.

Credits: Broadmoor: A History of the Criminally Insane (00:23)

Credits: Broadmoor: A History of the Criminally Insane

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Broadmoor: A History of the Criminally Insane

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Criminology professor David Wilson uses interviews and archives to highlight Britain's most notorious criminals and the place they called home.

Length: 47 minutes

Item#: BVL168523

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.