Friday, 7 February 2014

MP welcomes Prime Minister's pledge to support police in Medomsley abuse inquiry

The Northern Echo: MP welcomes Prime Minister's pledge to support police in Medomsley abuse inquiry  
MP welcomes Prime Minister's pledge to support police in Medomsley abuse inquiry

AN MP has welcomed the Prime Minister’s pledge to support Durham Police as they deal with inquiries into allegations of sexual and physical abuse at a former North-East detention centre.

North West Durham MP Pat Glass spoke after David Cameron gave his assurance that extra resources will be available to the force should a major incident happen while it carries out its investigation into Medomsley Detention Centre, in her constituency.

Her intervention came as police revealed they have now been contacted by 375 people since a new investigation was launched last August into claims of abuse at the Home Office-run centre, near Consett, between the late 1960s and mid 1980s.

Mrs Glass, who met last week with Durham Police and Crime Commissoner Ron Hogg and senior investigating officer Chief Superintendent Paul Goundry said: “I was told they have the resources they need.

“They are determined to see this inquiry through and leave no stone unturned. But Durham is a small force and it just needs some serious incident. . .

“Although it wouldn’t stop the investigation, it would have an impact on the speed at which victims can be seen.

“We want to ensure that should it become necessary, Durham Police have the resources to keep their specialist team in place until the conclusion of the inquiry.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Cameron said: “I think some of our smaller police forces are hugely capable, but when they are doing very complex and large investigations like this on occasion they do need help and support - so we should make sure that is available.”

Mrs Glass said today (Friday, February 7): “The Prime Minister said twice that he was committed to that and once I got it in writing on Hansard that he is committed – that is all I wanted.”

An earlier investigation led to a former catering officer at the centre, Neville Husband being jailed in 2003 for abusing a number of young men over a period of time. He died in 2010, following his release from prison.

The centre closed in 1988 and later reopened as the privately-run Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in 1999.


Police say 200 more people may have been victims of detention centre abuse

Prison officer Neville Husband, who died in 2010, is feared to have abused hundreds of detainees at Medomsley, Co Durham
David Cameron
David Cameron has promised help if necessary for Durham police, who have now been contacted by a total of 375 potential victims.
Durham police have confirmed that more than 200 potential new victims have come forward to detectives investigating sexual and physical abuse at a now defunct detention centre.

The development follows an investigation by the Guardian that revealed a prison officer at the centre, Neville Husband, may have abused hundreds of detainees over a 17-year period.

Husband was jailed for 10 years in 2003 for committing sex attacks on youngsters at Medomsley detention centre, near Consett, County Durham, in the 1970s and 1980s.

Husband, who died in 2010, had been in sole charge of the kitchens at Medomsley. The Guardian investigation in 2012 revealed he had raped boys on a daily basis, while other staff allegedly turned a blind eye.

Durham police said there had now been 232 new calls from potential victims, bringing the total to 375. A spokesman said: "All those who have rung will be seen by an officer over the coming weeks and steered towards the appropriate support and counselling."

Earlier this week, the prime minister assured the North West Durham MP, Pat Glass, that the Home Office would support local police if necessary while detectives were carrying out the investigations into what happened at the former detention centre.

Glass said: "The prime minister will be aware of the investigation into the systematic beating, abuse and rape of young men and boys at the former Medomsley detention centre in my constituency.

"The victim toll has now topped 300 and this is the biggest investigation ever undertaken by Durham Constabulary – a relatively small police force.

"Will the prime minister commit that if it proves necessary, his home secretary will meet with the police and crime commissioner, the chief constable and myself to ensure that the highly successful team has the resources it needs to see this investigation to its conclusion? The victims deserve no less."

Cameron replied: "I am very happy to give the honourable lady that assurance, because I don't support the police merger ideas of the past.

"I think some of our smaller police forces are hugely capable, but when they are doing very complex and large investigations like this on occasion they do need help and support – so we should make sure that is available."


‘I thought I’d die in there’

The Northern Echo: WITHIN THOSE WALLS: Medomsley Young Offenders’ Institution, near Consett, where Rod Jones, says he was brutalised and raped  

WITHIN THOSE WALLS: Medomsley Young Offenders’ Institution, near Consett, where Rod Jones, says he was brutalised and raped 
A ROPE was thrown onto Rod Jones’ cell floor. A prison officer pointed at it and stared at the battered teenage version of Mr Jones.

“Either you f***ing hang yourself or we’ll f***ing do it for you,” he sneered. “The bars are a good place to start. You’re only a ****. You can disappear.”

Mr Jones, then only 16 or 17, took the threat seriously.

He had already been beaten many times in various institutions for boys and young offenders, even an adult prison, across the North- East and Yorkshire.

Now he had been sent to MedomesleyYoung Offenders’ Institution, back then – in the 1960s – a new dention centre near Consett, designed to give a “short, sharp, shock” to teenagers and young men on the road to criminality.

Mr Jones doesn’t argue he didn’t deserve a sentence. He’d broken into a factory in Middlesbrough and got caught. Bang to rights.

But he says the abuse he, and many other boys, suffered was horrific.

“From day one in Medomsley I was beaten,” says the 67-year-old charity worker. “Every single day I got at least a bat or two. Not just from staff. They had favourites, hand-picked older boys, who would also beat you.”

Nowadays, Mr Jones runs a charity sending aid convoys to Romania. Back then, he was just another juvenile delinquent.

“We slept in a dormitory,” he recalls. “One night, when an officer shouted, ‘Get to bed,’ we all jumped in. I made the mistake of pulling the covers to my head. The screw shouted, ‘What are you doing with your hands.’ He thought I was messing with myself.

“The other lads were sniggering. ‘Drop your trousers.’ I had to drop them. He grabbed me by the privates and whacked me across them.

I turned and grabbed him, whacked him, the other lads had to drag me off; all the screws came running.
“That was the taboo – hitting a prison officer.

I knew was in for real trouble. I was beaten chronic. I just rolled into a ball and took the hiding of my life.”

His breakfast the next morning had been urinated and spat on and covered in salt. “Then it was, ‘Why haven’t you eaten your breakfast,’ and another bat,” he says.

His card was marked and worse trouble lay ahead. “There was a particularly vicious bloke, the worst of them. He knew I couldn’t climb the rope in gym and was forcing me up. I somehow got half way up when another one grabbed one of the other ropes. This one had leather at the bottom. He rolled it up and whacked me across the spine with it. I fell to the ground, he kicked me, and I went for him. This time the alarm bells went off. I could hear them all come running.

I knew something was going to happen.”

He says he was forced into a laundry basket before being repeatedly kicked over more than 200 yards, often upside down, to the “boot room.”

“I heard someone shout, ‘Get the hose.” They filled the basket full blast, I couldn’t breathe, must have gone unconscious. I woke up, sopping wet, in my cell.”

The next day Mr Jones’ nemesis came in with the rope and the threat. “I actually thought about doing it,” he says. “I thought I was a dead man.”

LATER, outside his cell, a friend from Middlesbrough was digging as part of his duties.

“I knew he was due out, so I shouted to him, “John, John, they’re going to kill me, get my dad.” But he said he was going to be arrested at the gate for a house burglary he’d done.”

Instead, with knowledge of the crime from his friend, Mr Jones confessed to having done the crime himself.
“Why? Because it was the only way out of Medomsley.”

In court, Mr Jones told magistrates he had committed the burglary. “I said, I’ve done loads and loads of burglaries. He took a look at me and said, “What’s happened to you?” Of course I didn’t tell him, but he sent me to borstal. I think, maybe it was an act of kindness. I remember thanking the two coppers.

“Anyway, I was taken to A Wing at Durham jail, which used to be for borstal boys. When I got there a screw said, ‘My friend tells me you like hitting prison officers’, and I got another kicking. But I survived.”

Survived to live the life of a brutalised but also brutal criminal. It took many years of violence and crime until Mr Jones finally found redemption and a peaceful life devoted to charity.

He finally turned his back on crime following the death of his son, also called Rodney, in a car crash when he was just 18. Determined to continue his son’s work helping people in Romania, Mr Jones went over to complete his last mission. When he saw the conditions Romanian orphans had to endure, the tough guy cried.
“I was in buckets I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

From that moment, Mr Jones dedicated his energy to raise funds to make life more bearable for the child victims of the former regime run by dictator Nicolae Caucsescu.

Now, he asks for justice for the victims of Medomsley, so that their lives may be more bearable.