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Vagrants claim police 'kidnap'

By Lara Pickford-Gordon

The vagrants who were taken off the streets last Tuesday and Wednesday believe they have been "kidnapped," saying that they are being held against their will at the St Ann's Hospital. A worker at St Ann's Hospital told Sunday Newsday that the vagrants, in interviews with doctors, said the police came and ordered them into a van. The vagrants said those who resisted were physically restrained, handcuffed and put into the van. The 37 vagrants have been sent to different wards because of the space problem at the mental hospital. "They are grabbing other patients' food, giving trouble to groom themselves. We put them on a seat and they want to sit on the ground. They sleeping on the ground when they can sleep on a bench." The vagrants are being accommodated "wherever they get a space."

Nurses at the hospital are not happy with the way the situation was handled. "Yet again the authorities are not stressing on quality. The place is already crowded. They did not say make sure beds are available. We don't know what is the long-term plan. No one spoke to us." The worker said nurses feel disrespected by the authorities. He said the hospital was staffed by mostly female nurses since male nurses do not remain. The nurses have said they are not putting their lives at risk trying to restrain the vagrants when they become aggressive. "The patients are protected under the Mental Health Act. Some of them are on an open ward and they can run away because there is access to and from. Nobody is trying to restrain them. The security officers say that is not their job, and the nurses say they are not paid to run down anybody."

He said the Government should have made proper arrangements before bringing the vagrants. "Who really cares? We are medicating them as much as we can, but it will take a while to rehabilitate them," the workers stated. The worker also said the authorities picked up people and dropped them off without caring that problems at the hospital were being "exacerbated." The vagrants were ordered for psychiatric evaluation last Thursday and scheduled to return to court on December 28 and 29.

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Vagrants claim police 'kidnap'
Dealing with vagrancy
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