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John Howard Centre

The John Howard Centre consists of eight male inpatient wards, a female inpatient ward, and a specialist secure ward for men with learning disabilities.  Patients are admitted to forensic services from acute mental health services where specialist support is indicated, courts, prisons and by instruction from the Ministry of Justice.

The John Howard Centre is a medium secure unit that provides specialist forensic psychiatric services to the City of London and the London Boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Havering and Barking, and Dagenham

There are some fantastic facilities, including large gardens, a sports hall, tennis court, indoor and outdoor gym equipment, IT suites and other therapy and education rooms. We have a service-user run café and shop.

The centre provides services for men and women with mental illness and also has specialist wards for men with Learning Disability and Autistic-Spectrum Disorders.  Some wards have specially designed sensory rooms.

Wolfson House is our Low Secure Rehabilitation Unit for men based in north London.

    Front Entrance of John Howard Centre with Sign

    12 Kenworthy Road
    E9 5TD
    United Kingdom

    Opening hours
    We are open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
    Telephone number
    020 8510 2003
    020 8510 2005
    020 8510 2006

    Information about visiting our wards can be found here.

    Additionally, all our forensic service sites have specific security arrangements and protocols which all staff, patients, and visitors have to comply with. This includes depositing mobile phones, cameras, etc. into lockers provided in the main entrance.

    When you arrive, you will be advised of the steps you need to take by our Reception staff.

    Our clinical teams are led by Consultant Psychiatrists supported by junior doctors.  The consultants act as Responsible Clinicians within the Mental Health Act.  Our psychiatrists are registered medical practitioners and prescribe medications as well as overseeing care.  

    Our largest professional group are nursing staff who provide day-to-day care on the wards and in the community.  They meet with inpatients on a daily basis to explore their progress and support their recovery, often taking people out on leave into the community.  Every service user has a named nurse and associate nurse.

    Each team has a dedicated Social Worker, who will help with family liaison, safeguarding, financial matters and accommodation.  Clinical Psychologists provide specialist assessments, individual talking therapies and group work.  

    Occupational Therapists work to develop people’s daily activities, acquiring new skills or improving core abilities such as cooking and budgeting and helping people lead lives that are meaningful to them. 

    Our therapies staff work across the whole service.  

    Arts Therapists use drama, music and art to help people explore their difficulties and express themselves.  

    Family Therapists help our service users to reconnect with loved ones. They help families communicate and support each other in healthy ways.

    Education staff support learning at whatever level is appropriate, from basic numeracy and literacy to qualifications and vocational activities.  

    Exercise is beneficial for mental health so we have a team of Sports Therapists to run sessions, boost fitness and learn new skills.  

    We also have dedicated staff for People Participation, Spiritual Care and for Events.

    The role of families and friends in supporting our service users is vital.  We have put together a pack for carers to help understand our service, which can be downloaded here [make this clickable].  

    We work hard to explain what is happening with the care of individuals in the unit. We may not always get things right in our communication with you.  So if you want to speak to someone about any aspect of the care and treatment your friend or relative is receiving, their social worker is a good point of contact, or email us on We will  get back to you to talk things through.

    Carers sometimes come to Care Programme Approach (CPA) meetings to contribute their views and hear about how things have been progressing. Carers can also arrange to speak to the consultant psychiatrist.  Again, please use the contact details above if you do not know who to get in touch with.

    Sometimes our service users do not want their information shared with family members, which can be hard for families who want to help.  Whilst service users have that right to confidentiality, we can still discuss some things with you and hear what you have to say.

    If you have a friend of family member receiving our services, please do consider coming to one of our open days or consider joining our Friends and Families Forum.  Let us know you are interested by sending an email to this address 

    You can view our Family Welcome Pack here

    Our focus is on high quality treatment.  That also means being careful that our services are safe and secure.  Our security is based on the physical environment and procedures that we have in place, e.g. to prevent illicit substances coming into the unit or in the management of our keys system. Above all it is based on the relational understanding we have.  Our staff and service users get to know each other very well.  We use the Relational Security Explorer to help us in this.

    Using Section 17 Leave outside the hospitals is a fundamental part of service users preparing themselves for life in the community.  This leave is granted by the Consultant responsible for the patient’s care and follows careful risk assessment.  We have electronic monitoring (“tagging”) available if needed.  

    Although it depends on which part of the Mental Health Act the individual is detained under, for most of our service users the Consultant cannot grant Section 17 Leave without also first seeking the permission of the Ministry of Justice, who have to be reassured about the rationale and risk assessment.

    At ELFT we take great pride in constantly striving to improve the quality of what we do.  At any given time we have as many as 20 active projects running in Forensic Services, receiving support from dedicated advisors, coaches and sponsors.  The range of topics is vast, some notable areas being on reducing aggression, improving physical health and working on systemic racism.

    Some of our projects have prepared short videos, which give a small taste of what has been achieved.

    Tackling Unmet Need on Victoria Ward >> (2 mins)

    Self Catering on Woodberry Ward >> (5 mins)

    Life Style Changes on Woodberry Ward > (7 mins)

    Shoreditch Ward Safety Huddle >> (30 seconds)

    Our service users and former service users are uniquely well placed to improve what we do.  We are delighted that our service users contribute to management of the unit through the User Involvement Group.  Service Users are key members of a number of our Quality Improvement Projects and run courses at our popular Recovery Colleges. 

    We have therapeutic groups that are led by or facilitated by service users and we have a range of Peer Support Workers who are paid members of staff whose own lived experience helps them to help others receiving care.  This also helps in our drive to reduce inequalities, for example with a specific service-user led group for black service users.

    Our Specialist Community Forensic Teams work across the seven boroughs of North East London providing care to those who are moving on from secure inpatient services.  The degree of support is very high.  

    All service users are offered regular reviews with a Consultant Psychiatrist and have named Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPNs).  Other staff from different professional backgrounds also provide treatment, including social workers, specialist substance misuse workers, peer support workers and a carer support worker.  

    We also provide a specialist community service within the Offender Personality Disorder Pathway, working in partnership with the National Probation Service.  This is a psychologically informed service working collaboratively with men and women to support risk management.  A comprehensive psychological assessment leads on to formulation of the individual’s risks and areas of need, which then leads on to strategies for future care planning with the service user.