David Cameron was responding to North West Durham MP Pat Glass during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today (February 5), as she highlighted one of the largest investigations of its kind centred on Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett.
Mrs Glass’ intervention comes as police revealed 375 new victims had come forward since a new investigation was launched last August, into claims of abuse at the Home Office-run centre between the late 1960s and mid 1980s.
Mrs Glass said: “The Prime Minister will be aware of the investigation in 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?
Mr Cameron replied: “I am very happy to give the Honorable 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.”
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.
Up to last Monday (January 27) police had spoken to 143 people, the vast majority of whom were victims who had not previously come forward.
The total also included a small number of possible witnesses or callers who had information which might help the police inquiries.
Coverage in The Northern Echo and a BBC1 documentary has since prompted a further 232 calls to police, bringing the total number of victims to 375.
A police spokesman said: "All those who have rung over the last ten days will be seen by an officer over the coming weeks and steered towards the appropriate support and counselling."
Prime Ministers Question Time