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13 Dec, 2008 04:45

Jack the Ripper in a new light

Britain has opened up the archives to Broadmoor, a psychiatric hospital which housed some of the country’s most notorious patients, including a leading suspect in the Jack the Ripper murder case.

Crawthorne may seem like any other English village, but take a closer look and you’ll notice the cameras: they’re looking at you.

The village is home to Broadmoor, Britain’s most famous hospital for dangerous criminals.

Villagers are used to living in the shadow of the institution.  School teacher Linda Arnold has been in the area for 15 years.

The alarm is sounded on a Monday morning at 10 am and it will ring a tone – and that is a test. 5 minutes later we have the “all clear”. If it rings any other time – you know that something has gone wrong at Broadmoor, possibly an escape or possibly an incident inside the hospital.”

When Linda took her own children to school she had to sign a form saying what she would do if the alarm went off for real.

She recalls an occasion in 1993 when the sirens sounded.

My older child was at school and I had to go down and collect him and take the younger one with me – I took them home and locked the doors,” she said.

Constructed in 1863, Broadmoor was the first custom-built asylum. But only now is it finally giving up its secrets.
The greatest excitment centres on ‘Jack the Ripper’ – a notorious serial killer who preyed on women in 19th century London.  His identity remains a mystery. A leading suspect was Thomas Hayne Cutbush, a known killer.

One conspiracy theory claims he was never put forward as a suspect by the police as his uncle was a senior member of the Metropolitan police.

Once called an asylum for the criminally insane, now it’s just Broadmoor Special Hospital.

Every year from now on, as its records are opened to public scrutiny, new revelations of a dark past will see the light of day.

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