Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Police pledge over Medomsley abuse claims as 80 people come forward with allegations

Police pledge on abuse claims  
Photograph of the AuthorPolice pledge on abuse claims
POLICE have pledged to leave no stone unturned as it is revealed that more than 80 people contacted them to report abuse they suffered as inmates at a County Durham centre for young offenders in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In August detectives from Durham Constabulary announced they were launching a fresh investigation into claims young men sent to Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett, were subjected to abuse at the hands of staff.

In 2003, a previous police investigation led to the conviction of Neville Husband, a prison officer at the centre.

Husband was initially jailed for eight years after being found guilty of abusing five youngsters. The publicity surrounding the trial led to others coming forward and Husband was subsequently jailed for a further two years for these attacks.

After being released from prison, he died from natural causes in 2010 at his home in nearby Snows Green, Shotley Bridge.

His friend, storeman Leslie Johnson, was jailed for six years. He too has died.
The new investigation has led to 83 victims coming forward whom police were previously unaware of.

Police say the callers include former inmates who said they were victims of Husband, those who were victims of at least one other person and also those who say they were abused by staff.

The other callers have been potential witnesses.

The investigation will consider allegations of abuse which took place both in the centre and off-site.
Sixty detectives, drawn mainly from the force’s major crime team and safeguarding units, will be part of the investigation called Operation Seabrook.

They are each being assigned individual victims to interview and to take statements - a process which should begin in earnest in a few weeks time.

Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, who is leading the inquiry, pledged all those who had come forward would be treated with the utmost care and sensitivity.

He said: "Many of those sent to Medomsley were first-time offenders, often detained for relatively minor offences.

“These days they might be dealt with by issuing a caution, or putting in place a restorative solution designed to keep them out of the criminal justice system.

“We owe it to all the former inmates of the centre to investigate every possible lead and ensure no stone is left unturned.”

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