Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Medomsley abuse investigation: Former staff arrested

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Two former members of staff at Medomsley Detention Centre have been arrested over allegations of sexual and physical abuse against hundreds of inmates at a former County Durham detention centre.

The alleged victims were all in their 'teens when they were sent to Medomsley, often for minor offences, from the 1960's until the centre closed in 1988.

In August 2013 Durham Police announced that the force was opening a new investigation – named ‘Operation Seabrook’ - into allegations from ex-inmates of Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett.

Previous police investigations in 2003 and 2005 led to the conviction and jailing of Neville Husband and Leslie Johnson, former members of staff at the centre who have since died.

Since August 2013, a total of 1,123 men have contacted the Operation Seabrook team to report that they were victims of either sexual or physical assaults. Of these, approximately one-third have reported they were sexually assaulted by either Husband or Johnson.

In November 2014 police began the process of interviewing ex- members of staff who worked at Medomsley during the 1970’s and 1980’s.

While several have died in the intervening years, 16 who are still alive have been identified in this initial phase. All have now been spoken to, the majority as voluntary attenders at local police stations.

However, two of the 16 – now aged 69 and 58 – were arrested and questioned before being released on police bail. Both were detained on suspicion of physical and sexual assaults on Medomsley inmates.

A police spokesman says efforts are now being made to trace and interview at least a dozen more former members of staff.