North Durham News Exclusive By Gavin Engelbrecht
FIVE more people have come forward saying they were sexually or physically abused at a North-East detention centre – hours after an article in The Northern Echo revealed there were more than 120 alleged victims.
The Durham Constabulary investigation centred on Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett, County Durham, is developing into the largest inquiries of its kind.
Detectives launched Operation Seabrook in August, into claims that then teenage inmates were abused in the centre in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
A previous investigation led to the conviction in 2003 of Neville Husband, an officer at the centre.
He was sentenced to ten years in jail for systematically raping several teenagers and died of natural causes after his release at his home in nearby Snows Green, Shotley Bridge, in 2010.
The 72-year-old’s friend, storeman Leslie Johnson, was a jailed for six years for similar offences. He too has died.
Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, who is leading the inquiry said: “We have had five more people contact our officers this morning following the article in The Northern Echo.
“I have mixed emotions. On one hand I am delighted five more have come forward as a result of the publicity, but at the same time it is five more victims of abuse in Medomsley.”
NSPCC team manager Louise Exton, who worked on Operation Yewtree - the national investigation sparked by the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal – praised the approach of taken by Durham Police.
Ms Exton said: “I have been involved in Operation Seabrook for the last couple of weeks and have really been impressed by the focus there has been on the well-being of the victims throughout.
“The police are clear this is a victim-led inquiry and they are very keen to make sure they have all the appropriate support in place.”
She added: “The reason we have become involved is through our experience with Operation Yewtree.
“We wanted to be able contribute what we learned from that investigation to make sure we could offer any additional support that we could.
“The real benefit of our service is that is its 24-hour availability.”
Police say initial inquiries suggest the sexual abuse went wider than Husband and Johnson.
Anyone with information should contact detectives on 101 or any of the support services advertised on a dedicated page set up on www.durham.police.uk.