Thursday, 22 December 2016

Medomsley abuse probe: 1,400 people have now come forward



Almost 1,400 people have now come forward to say they were abused at Medomsley detention centre in County Durham.

Operation Seabrook is the Durham Police investigation into abuse allegations at the facility.
It was triggered after former prison officer Neville Husband was jailed for eight years in 2003 for abusing five youths.

It's been running for two-and-a-half years now and is the biggest of its kind. Officers have spoken to around 20 suspects.

Source

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Investigation into alleged abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre 'almost complete'



ITV Report



Ron Hogg, Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Photo:

An investigation into allegations of abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre in County Durham is almost complete.

1,361 alleged victims have contacted police to report abuse they suffered at the centre from the 1960s to the1980s.

The victims were all in their teens when they were sent to Medomsley, often for minor offences, until the centre closed in 1988.

Thirty-one potential abusers have been identified and the Crown Prosecution Service is looking into which cases are strong enough to prosecute in court.

The investigation into alleged abuse called 'Operation Seabrook' was launched by Durham Police in August 2013. It is now the biggest investigation of its kind in the country.

It is even bigger than Operation Yewtree, the investigation into sexual abuse allegations, predominantly against television personality Jimmy Savile.

Previous police investigations into the abuse at Medomsley in 2003 and 2005 led to the conviction and jailing of Neville Husband and Leslie Johnson, former members of staff at the centre who have since died.

Absolutely, yes, we've come to the end almost, we may be picking up the odd one or two as we go forward but the substantial number of victims have now reported in and we're satisfied with that and we're progressing the case on that basis.'

'Many have been interviewed and we have a file in with the CPS to decide who out of anyone may or may not be prosecuted."
– Ron Hogg, Durham Police and Crime Commissioner

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Officer leading Medomsley detention centre abuse investigation steps down

Det Supt Paul Goundry has assured victims that the three year investigation will not be impacted by his retirement


16:47, 8 NOV 2016


The officer leading Operation Seabrook, Det Supt Paul Goundry


The senior officer leading the investigation into sex abuse at the infamous Medomsley detention centre in County Durham has stepped down.

Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry has headed up Operation Seabrook since it was established in August 2013. He has now retired to take up another role outside of the police force.

In a recent letter sent to victims he moved to assure them that the three year investigation will not be impacted by his retirement.

He said: “I have been invited to take on a newly created role outside of the police service, working as the project lead on an initiative which will serve the needs of sexual assault victims of all ages across County Durham and Darlington.

“In this position I will be working with all the relevant statutory agencies, looking at how we support victims of sexual abuse and whether the services which currently exist can be improved and co-ordinated more effectively.

“In order to take up this position, I have had to retire as a police officer which in turn means I had to give up my position as the senior investigating officer for Operation Seabrook.

“Please let me assure you, this will make no practical difference whatsoever to our ongoing investigation.”


The investigation into assaults on inmates at Medomsley Detention Centre is now the biggest child abuse inquiry in the UK. Operation Seabrook detectives in their office at Chester-Le-Street Police station.


Det Chief Insp Steve Chapman is set to take over the leadership role with Det Chief Insp Mick Callan remaining in post as deputy senior investigating officer.

In his letter Det Supt Goundry went on to say: “As you know, Mick has been involved in Seabrook from the outset therefore the investigation could not be in safer hands.”

The operation is one of the largest abuse investigations in UK criminal history and is attempting to establish what happened at Medomsley detention centre near Consett from the 1960s to 1988 when it closed.

More than 1,240 former inmates at Medomsley detention centre have now come forward to report being physically or sexually abused while being held at the facility.

The scale and complexity of the investigation meant the force bought in a team of experienced retired detectives.

The former detainees were all in their teens when they were sent to Medomsley for what were often relatively minor offences.

They typically spent six to eight weeks at the Home Office-run centre before being released.


Source

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Operation Seabrook - Medomsley Detention Centre 12/10/2016

‘Operation Seabrook’ is the criminal investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse perpetrated by staff against detainees at Medomsley Detention Centre near Consett, County Durham.

It was launched in August 2013 and is investigating incidents which happened over many years, principally the 1970's and 1980's. 

The three main aims of the investigation are:
* to ensure support is provided for victims so they are in a better place after contacting the police    
* to gain the fullest understanding of how Medomsley operated during those years 
* to secure evidence so that any potential offenders are brought to justice.

Anyone needing to make contact with the team in writing can email  operation.seabrook@durham.pnn.police.uk

The 'Seabrook' team has now heard from more than 1,350 former inmates at Medomsley who have reported they were abused while detained at the centre.

All of the surviving main suspects - 31 in total - have been identified, interviewed and prosecution files submitted to the CPS for advice.  This advice will then identify those individuals who are likely to be charged and also which victims or witnesses are likely to give evidence.

Update on the current state of the investigation; October 2016

There has been a recent change at the head of the Seabrook team, with the retirement of Det Supt Paul Goundry, who was the senior investigating officer (SIO).

In a recent letter sent to victims he said; "I have been invited to take on a newly created role outside of the police service, working as the project lead on an initiative which will serve the needs of sexual assault victims of all ages across County Durham and Darlington.

"In this position I will be working with all the relevant statutory agencies, looking at how we support victims of sexual abuse and whether the services which currently exist can be improved and co-ordinated more effectively.

"In order to take up this position, I have had to retire as a police officer which in turn means I had to give up my position as the SIO for Operation Seabrook.

"Please let me assure you, this will make no practical difference whatsoever to our ongoing investigation.

"Detective Chief Inspector Steve Chapman (pictured left), a very experienced SIO has been appointed to succeed me with Det Chief Insp Mick Callan remaining in post as deputy SIO.

"As you know, Mick has been involved in Seabrook from the outset therefore the investigation could not be in safer hands."

 Detective Constable Tracey Etchells remains the victim co-ordinator and Detective Sergeant Claire Errington continues to lead the dedicated team working full-time on Seabrook. In fact the Seabrook team has just increased its numbers with the appointment of Andy McConnell, a recently retired police inspector as the identification officer.

His role within Operation Seabrook will be to carry out the identification procedures which are governed by a set of rules to make the system as fair as possible.

Important - If you are a victim and your contact details have changed, for example, you have moved house or have a new phone number then please email the Seabrook team or call them via 101 so they can update their records.

Durham Constabulary continues to work with various organisations to provide the best possible support for victims. Access to support is available without the need to contact the police for those who feel unable to do so.

Independent Psychotherapist Zoe Lodrick





The following organisations can be contacted independently of the police for support .

NSPCC FREEPHONE HELPLINE (24 hrs):
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children                                                                                    0808 800 5000
The helpline is available for anyone who has concerns about a child or anyone including adults who wish to discuss their own experience of abuse as a child or young person.
Contact can also be made via e mail : help@nspcc.org.uk  or by text 88858
Contact can be made anonymously if the caller so wishes.

NAPAC
National Association for People Abused in ChildhoodFreephone from all landlines and mobile networks 0808 801 0331.
Calls do not show on your bill; lines are open 10am to 9pm Monday - Thursday, and 10am to 6pm on Friday. NAPAC is unable to take messages or ring back. 

The Meadows:
The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre (Darlington and Co Durham) 0191 301 8554
The Meadows will accept calls between the hours of 9am-3.30 pm Monday to Friday and can arrange one-to-one counselling sessions and can make referrals to similar centres throughout the UK.

Counselling does not involve discussing what has happened in relation to the assault, it aims to help you work through your feelings to aid the healing process.
Staff at the Meadows will not contact the police without your consent unless there are current concerns in respect of a child or vulnerable adult.

Source

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Durham Police ask for extra £1.5m to fund Medomsley Detention Centre abuse probe

The investigation is one of the biggest child abuse investigations in the UK with more than 1,300 victims coming forward 


Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Ben Emmerson QC

Durham Constabulary has asked for an extra £1.5m on top of its normal budget to handle the massive investigation into abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre.

The force applied to the Home Office in 2015/16 for a special grant to help handle the costs of Operation Seabrook which is now the biggest child abuse inquiry in the UK.

A staggering 1,350 men have reported being physically or sexually assaulted at the County Durham detention centre during the 1970s and 1980s.

The Home Office and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) have yet to come to a decision on whether or not to agree with the amount suggested by Durham Constabulary in their bid.

Similar child sexual abuse investigation like Operation Hydrant, in Norfolk, and Operation Pallial, in North Wales, have been awarded special grant and have been granted at least half of the amount they requested.

Last year South Yorkshire Police requested £17m in extra funding for Operation Stovewood, the National Crime Agency-led investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and were granted £1.6m was agreed for 2015/16 and up to £5.9m for 2016/17.

The news comes as Ben Emmerson QC, the most senior lawyer working on an independent inquiry into historic child sexual abuse in England and Wales resigned.


Dave Higgens/PA Wire
Professor Alexis Jay

In his resignation letter, Mr Emmerson said he was no longer the “right person” for the role, but denied he had stepped down due to a difference of opinion with chair Professor Alexis Jay.

The inquiry was set up in 2014 to examine whether public bodies including the police have failed in their duty to protect children from sexual abuse. It will also examine claims of abuse involving “well-known people”.

Prof Jay is the fourth person appointed to lead the investigation.

She was appointed after its third chairwoman, New Zealand judge Justice Lowell Goddard, resigned in August this year, citing the “magnitude” of the inquiry and the “legacy of failure” from its beginnings.

An attempt to start the inquiry in 2014 was abandoned after two proposed chairwomen resigned.

Operation Seabrook is attempting to establish what happened at Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett, in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

The scale and complexity of the investigation meant the force bought in a team of experienced retired detectives to work on the case.

So far 31 suspects have been identified and interviewed and the CPS is currently reviewing prosecution files.

Last year detectives trawled the archives of the Chronicle to look for clues in any articles written about the detention centre.

Det Supt Paul Goundry
Det Supt Paul Goundry, who has led the two-year investigation, told ChronicleLive at the time how the victims’ accounts of horrific abuse have left even the most hardened long-serving detectives sickened.

He said: “This investigation is probably one of the most challenging the country has faced, not just due to the number of victims but also because Medomsley closed in 1986, which means we are talking about events that occurred between 30 and 50 years ago.

“The investigation team is made up of very experienced detectives who have built up close bonds with many of the victims. Some hardened detectives have been quite traumatised by the accounts of the victims.”

Overall, across England and Wales, police forces applied for £64m in special grants from the Home Office in the last two years - just over half (£32.7m) of the amounts requested by forces were awarded.

 Source

Monday, 12 September 2016

Departing judge says child abuse inquiry has ‘inherent problem’

12.09.16
 
 
The inquiry into historic allegations of child sexual abuse suffers from an “inherent problem” because its scope is too large, its former chair has said. 
 
Justice Lowell Goddard, who resigned in August, submitted a memo to the Home Affairs Select Committee setting out what she saw as the problems with the inquiry.

“It is clear there is an inherent problem in the sheer scale and size of the inquiry (which its budget does not match) and therefore in its manageability,” she said.

“Its boundless compass, including as it does, every state and non-state institution, as well as relevant institutional contexts, coupled with the absence of any built-in time parameters, does not fit comfortably or practically within the single inquiry model in which it currently resides. Nor is delivery on the limitless extent of all of the aspirations in its terms of reference possible in any cohesive or comprehensive manner.”

Justice Goddard said her departure should be an opportunity for a review of the inquiry. She added that after the inquiry was reconstituted under her leadership, it “proved in operational terms not to be a new inquiry with a completely fresh start, but rather a continuation and expansion of the previously existing inquiry in terms of its administration and management”.

The former chair said she was not consulted in the recruitment of additional staff for the new inquiry and some of the staff were unsuitable because they had no previous experience of running an inquiry of this kind. She also said that the inquiry’s public communications strategy needs to be “radically strengthened” in the future.

The inquiry suffered a further blow after victims’ groups threatened to boycott it. Raymond Stevenson, of the Shirley Oaks’ Survivors Association, said there was no guarantee that the inquiry’s investigation into the treatment of children in care in Lambeth was “truly independent” because the Home Office were heavily involved in both this inquiry and previous investigations.

John McCabe, a spokesperson for victims of alleged abuse at Medomsley detention centre, said he was urging victims and their lawyers to boycott the inquiry because it was not taking evidence from victims who were abused over the age of 18.

Source

Bar on evidence of Medomsley inmates is a slap in the face for victims of abuse


Lowell Goddard, who resigned as head of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse in August, suggested that it should be remodelled to focus it ‘more towards current events and thus focusing major attention on the present and future protection of children’. Photograph: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

Almost three years ago I was asked by Durham constabulary to advise on detention centre regimes as background to an investigation of allegations of abuse at HM detention centre Medomsley. Its work was later taken over by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse. Now we learn (Victims threatening boycott of child abuse inquiry, 9 September) that the inquiry’s terms of reference preclude them from hearing evidence from those who were 18 or over at the time, though it will consider behaviour commencing before the age of 18.

Until 1970 the age of majority in the UK was set at 21. Medomsley was classified as a senior detention centre and thus held those between the ages of 17 and 21, all of them children as the law then stood. Medomsley opened in 1961, so the inquiry’s terms of reference will preclude about nine years’ worth of serious allegations, except for those made by a few former trainees at the very lowest end of the age scale.

Almost three years ago I was asked by Durham constabulary to advise on detention centre regimes as background to an investigation of allegations of abuse at HM detention centre Medomsley. Its work was later taken over by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse. Now we learn (Victims threatening boycott of child abuse inquiry, 9 September) that the inquiry’s terms of reference preclude them from hearing evidence from those who were 18 or over at the time, though it will consider behaviour commencing before the age of 18.

Until 1970 the age of majority in the UK was set at 21. Medomsley was classified as a senior detention centre and thus held those between the ages of 17 and 21, all of them children as the law then stood. Medomsley opened in 1961, so the inquiry’s terms of reference will preclude about nine years’ worth of serious allegations, except for those made by a few former trainees at the very lowest end of the age scale.


A Durham team was sensitively handling very many serious allegations and had worked hard to gain the confidence of former trainees. Now, three years on, the latter are to be given a metaphorical slap in the face. The inquiry’s terms of reference should be amended so as to avoid inflicting another form of abuse upon those traumatised individuals who seemingly misplaced their trust in the system by coming forward in the first place. 
Peter Quinn
 (Former prison governor)
Helperby, North Yorkshire

Lowell Goddard makes a plea for the independent inquiry into sex abuse to focus on the future protection of children vulnerable to abuse, while Eric Allison and Simon Hattenstone argue passionately for those previously abused while in the care of the state to be heard. While it may be that such unchecked, terrible abuse in a state institution is a thing of the past, the attitude to the “bad” boys and girls in our custodial institutions has changed little over the years.

Where was the public outrage following the Panorama programme earlier this year about the treatment of children in a secure training centre? And why, despite a change in management and reassurances from government, did the recent inspection report on the same centre still express grave concerns? Children in custody, whatever crime they have committed, are in the care of the state, and the state has a duty to treat them with respect; it is only a small step from lack of care and respect to actual abuse. The lack of concern for and interest in these children may create a climate where such abuse is not only a thing of history.
Pam Hibbert
Llangammarch Wells, Powys

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Source