Friday, 24 April 2015

Operation Sanctuary: Shadow Home Secretary calls abuse 'deeply disturbing'

Yvette Cooper also says that Labour would strengthen laws so that breaching sexual risk orders would be a criminal offence

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper says new laws proposed by Labour would protect against the kind of widespread abuse revealed by Operation Sanctuary.

Northumbria Police launched its investigation into the sexual exploitation of girls and young women after a report of concern for one girl in January 2014.

Since then, a total of 53 people have been charged with offences and the operation has been broadened to include all incidents of females targeted for sexual assault because of their vulnerability.
Questions have since been asked about how the epidemic of abuse could have happened and what could be done to better protect women and young girls from predators.

Labour’s Ms Cooper said her party is proposing stronger powers for police officers.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper
It is proposed to make the breach of a child abduction warning notice or a sexual risk order a criminal offence.

As it stands, the two powers are used informally.

The politician also proposes more sex education in schools which would help young people better understand the issue of consent, as well as other things.

Ms Cooper said: “The abuse uncovered as part of Operation Sanctuary was deeply disturbing.

“These issues around sexual exploitation of young women and girls are immensely serious.

“This is a type of crime that has been hidden away for so long.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper
“We need to see real leadership in the Home Office on this and for these issues to be made a national priority.

“We need to be carrying out prevention work in schools and that includes better sex education.

“We need to talk to all our young people - girls and boys - about violence and respect in relationships so that we can guard the next generation against abuse and crime.

“We also need stronger powers for police to intervene.

“We want to strengthen warning orders that prevent predators from approaching young people.
“These are used informally at the moment and they need to be strengthened so that it is a criminal offence to approach the young person again.

“This is important as it can take a long time to build a prosecution case against a perpetrator.”
Home Secretary Theresa May has set up a national abuse inquiry which will take in Operation Sanctuary as well as investigate the historic abuse which was unearthed at Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett in County Durham.


Operation Seabrook - Medomsley Detention Centre

​ ‘Operation Seabrook’ is the criminal investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse perpetrated by staff against detainees at Medomsley Detention Centre near Consett, County Durham.

It was launched in August 2013 and is investigating incidents which happened over many years, principally the 1970's and 1980's. 

The 'Seabrook' team has now heard from more than 1,120 former inmates at Medomsley who have reported they were abused while detained at the centre during those years.

The Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) is Det Supt Paul Goundry, with Det Chief Insp Brad Howe as the deputy SIO and Marian Garland, a former detective appointed as victim co-ordinator.
Anyone needing to make contact with the team can email them via

Numerous lines of inquiry have been undertaken to identify those responsible for offences at Medomsley who are still alive, and detectives have carried out interviews with a number of former prison officers and members of staff.

Durham Constabulary has been working with various organisations to provide the best possible support for victims. Access to support is available without the need to contact the police for those who feel unable to do so.

Independent Psychotherapist Zoe Lodrick

The following organisations can be contacted independently of the police for support .

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children                                                                                    0808 800 5000

The helpline is available for anyone who has concerns about a child or anyone including adults who wish to discuss their own experience of abuse as a child or young person.

Contact can also be made via e mail :  or by text 88858
Contact can be made anonymously if the caller so wishes.

National Association for People Abused in Childhood
Freephone from all landlines and mobile networks 0808 801 0331.
Calls do not show on your bill; lines are open 10am to 9pm Monday - Thursday, and 10am to 6pm on Friday. NAPAC is unable to take messages or ring back. 

The Meadows:
The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre (Darlington and Co Durham) 0191 301 8554

The Meadows will accept calls between the hours of 9am-3.30 pm Monday to Friday and can arrange one-to-one counselling sessions and can make referrals to similar centres throughout the UK.

Counselling does not involve discussing what has happened in relation to the assault, it aims to help you work through your feelings to aid the healing process.

Staff at the Meadows will not contact the police without your consent unless there are current concerns in respect of a child or vulnerable adult.