Thursday, 2 February 2017

Police send 32 files to Crown Prosecution Service following investigation into Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett

DETECTIVES leading the country’s biggest investigation into historic sexual and physical abuse on inmates at a former North-East detention centre have submitted 32 files to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Following an investigation spanning more than three years, 1,403 victims have come forward to tell Durham Police they were abused by staff who ran the notorious Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett – including four in the last two days.

And detectives say Operation Seabrook, launched by the force in August 2013, could continue a further year as yet more alleged culprits are identified.

Temporary Detective Superintendent Steve Chapman, who is leading Operation Seabrook, said: “We have now been successful in taking 32 files to the Crown Prosecution Service for charging advice.

"That is ongoing and we would expect to get decisions in the summer. The investigation does not stop there.

“The investigation team constantly reviews all new material and this number may increase.”

The ex-detainees were all in their teens when they were sent to Medomsley at various dates from the 1960’s to when the centre closed in 1988, for what were often relatively minor offences.

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

The centre gained public notoriety when guard Neville Husband and accomplice Leslie Johnson were jailed for a reign of terror which saw them commit sex acts on vulnerable young men.

One trainee was sexually abused after having a bread knife held to this throat, another was attacked after he stole marzipan and icing from a store.

Previous police investigations in 2003 and 2005 led to the conviction and jailing of Husband and Johnson. Both have since died.

Of the 405 allegations of sexual abuse made since Operation Seabrook was launched, 270 - or two-thirds – were related to either Husband or Johnson.

In November 2014 police began the process of interviewing ex-members of staff who worked at Medomsley, from the 1960’s to the 1980’s.

While several have died in the intervening years, 32 suspects have been identified and spoken to.

Temp Det Supt Chapman said: “We now have a significant understanding of how Medomsley Detention Centre operated during that time.

“It was about “short, sharp shock” treatment, which was in the guidance at the time.

“The reality is that a significant number of people stepped way above that and and we ended up with both sexual and physical abuse, which was quite horrendous.”

He added: “We have ensured victims have been fully updated on the investigation so far. Counselling and professional support has also been available to anyone who needed help, and I am really pleased that so many people have taken us up on this offer.”

“I am really pleased with the progress of this investigation so far and the dedication of both the investigators and the Crown Prosecution Service in working together to ensure all available evidence is considered in the lead up to decisions being made.”

Counselling and support remains available by contacting the local Sexual Assault Referral Centre, The Meadows, on 0191 301 8554.