The UK government carried out a secret drug experiment on young boys in the 1960s, a BBC investigation has discovered. Government doctors gave the boys a powerful anticonvulsant—without parental consent—to see if it would improve their behaviour.
Home Office psychiatrist Dr Pamela Mason gave the go-ahead to the experiment, which involved giving boys at the Richmond Hill approved school in North Yorkshire the anticonvulsant Beclamide or a placebo. The secret experiment took place in 1968 for six months, although the results are not known.
The experiment had been requested by Dr J R Hawkings, a psychiatrist attached to the school, which was a halfway house for young offenders, who wanted to see if the drug could calm boys who were “impulsive, explosive, irritable, restless and aggressive.”
Although the drug had never been tried on young boys, he said the trial would be “a perfectly normal and legitimate therapy for certain types of disturbed adolescents.”
In giving her endorsement, Dr Mason said “I would recommend maximum support for this project”.
Similar approval was given for another secret drug experiment, this time on a group of young girls at a school near Leeds. The plan was to give all the girls at Springhead Park approved school a powerful sedative, Haloperidol, to see if it calmed their behaviour. Although the Home Office approved the experiment, it never went ahead.
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