"Media hype" made police release photo of escaped psych prisoner, clinic director claims

Dutch police
A sign hanging in front of a Dutch police post. April 30, 2006Photo: M.M.Minderhoud via Michiel1972Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA

The police only released photos and a description of escaped psychiatric prisoner Peter M. last month due to the "media hype", according to the director of the Fivoor clinic in Den Dolder Erik Masthoff. The release of the wanted report was completely unnecessary, he said in an interview with the Volkskrant. 

Peter M. did not return to the Fivoor clinic - the same clinic that was treating Michael P. when he allegedly raped and killed Anne Faber in 2017 - after his leave early last month. M.'s family described him as "extremely dangerous" when he was not taking his medication. The police released his photo and description when he was away from the clinic long enough for his medication to nearly be worked out of his system. The man was arrested soon afterwards.

According to Masthoff, the panic around M.'s escape was completely unnecessary. The clinic immediately denied that the man was dangerous. "The appalling hype that arose contributed to the police posting that report", he said to the Volkskrant. "The result is, in my opinion, that this non-dangerous patient's photo is now on the internet, and he is classified as a very dangerous man."

Every year between 2 thousand and 3 thousand patients do not return from their leave, he said to the newspaper. These are mainly patients who were not sentenced to spending time in a psychiatric institution, according to Masthoff. 

The police told the Volkskrant that they were not led by a media hype when deciding to release M.'s photo. That decision was "well considered" and was made because M. needed to take his medication again.