According to press reports, men detained at Medomsley Detention Centre were subject to sexual and physical abuse by prison officers employed there.
One such prison
officer, Neville Husband, was convicted of numerous offences and
sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2003 and another employee, Leslie
Johnson who was a store man, was convicted and sentenced to 6 years in
prison in 2005. Newcastle Crown Court heard that Mr Husband “used his
position of authority” when employed at Medomsley to inflict abuse on
detainees from 1974 to 1984. He was found guilty of 10 counts of
indecent assault and one of serious sexual assault after at least 24
victims came forward. Messrs Husband and Johnson are both now deceased.
Police reopened the investigation in August 2013 and so far 143 alleged
victims have come forward. One such victim has been reported as saying “Some
of the boys would lie at the bottom of the stairs and ask another boy
to jump off the stairs onto their legs so they could break a leg and be
removed from Medomsley Detention Centre in order not to be subjected to
any more beatings”.
This seems to be an extraordinary way of
detainees trying to protect themselves from sexual abuse and beatings.
This would seem a desperate measure to protect each other from further
harm and abuse.
The sickening part of this is that most of the
detainees were sent to Medomsley for minor offences such as petty theft
and many were first time offenders.
Tim Newell was the governor at Medomsley from 1978 to 1981 but he prepared a report stating that Mr Husband provided “an outstanding contribution to the running of the establishment”. This of course cannot be true as there are currently 70 police officers in Durham involved in this enquiry.
Even the Director General of the prison service at the time of the offences coming to light, Martin Narey, has said “Without
reservation I apologise to people at Medomsley who were harmed by
Neville Husband. We should have stopped him much earlier.”
the same vein as Operation Yewtree it would appear that people knew
that the abuse was taking place but did very little to stop it or
prevent it happening to others. Institutional systemic abuse in such
institutions as the BBC and Medomsley must have been common knowledge at
the time. However, it has taken many years to bring the perpetrators of
the abuse to justice. Jimmy Savile died before he could be brought to
justice and the victims of his abuse feel cheated that he was not made
to answer to them for the abuse he carried out in much the same way as
the victims of Husband and Johnson who are now coming forward many years
after the abuse was carried out.
Abuse, be it physical, sexual or
emotional, can carry lifelong psychological difficulties for victims
and it takes courage and motivation for victims to come forward and tell
others what has happened. I see many clients who are paralysed
emotionally because of such abuse and they have extreme difficulty
moving on with life as a consequence.
I fear that the
institutional abuse such as that carried out at Medomsley was down to a
small number of individuals who felt the need to exploit the detainees.
The detainees were vulnerable and incapable of protecting themselves at
the time of the abuse, and after release from Medomsley they had to
grapple with the harmful effects of the abuse and the stigma attached to
being incarcerated at Medomsley and this in itself, for many, would
have prevented them from disclosing such abuse to the police or other