‘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 three main aims of the investigation are:
* to ensure support is provided for victims so they are in a better place after contacting the police
* to gain the fullest understanding of how Medomsley operated during those years
* to secure evidence so that any potential offenders are brought to justice.
Anyone needing to make contact with the team in writing can email firstname.lastname@example.org
The 'Seabrook' team has now heard from more than 1,350 former inmates at Medomsley who have reported they were abused while detained at the centre.
All of the surviving main suspects - 31 in total - have been identified, interviewed and prosecution files submitted to the CPS for advice. This advice will then identify those individuals who are likely to be charged and also which victims or witnesses are likely to give evidence.
Update on the current state of the investigation; October 2016
There has been a recent change at the head of the Seabrook team, with the retirement of Det Supt Paul Goundry, who was the senior investigating officer (SIO).
In a recent letter sent to victims he said; "I have been invited to take on a newly created role outside of the police service, working as the project lead on an initiative which will serve the needs of sexual assault victims of all ages across County Durham and Darlington.
"In this position I will be working with all the relevant statutory agencies, looking at how we support victims of sexual abuse and whether the services which currently exist can be improved and co-ordinated more effectively.
"In order to take up this position, I have had to retire as a police officer which in turn means I had to give up my position as the SIO for Operation Seabrook.
"Please let me assure you, this will make no practical difference whatsoever to our ongoing investigation.
"Detective Chief Inspector Steve Chapman (pictured left), a very experienced SIO has been appointed to succeed me with Det Chief Insp Mick Callan remaining in post as deputy SIO.
"As you know, Mick has been involved in Seabrook from the outset therefore the investigation could not be in safer hands."
Detective Constable Tracey Etchells remains the victim co-ordinator and Detective Sergeant Claire Errington continues to lead the dedicated team working full-time on Seabrook. In fact the Seabrook team has just increased its numbers with the appointment of Andy McConnell, a recently retired police inspector as the identification officer.
His role within Operation Seabrook will be to carry out the identification procedures which are governed by a set of rules to make the system as fair as possible.
Important - If you are a victim and your contact details have changed, for example, you have moved house or have a new phone number then please email the Seabrook team or call them via 101 so they can update their records.
Durham Constabulary continues to work 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.
The following organisations can be contacted independently of the police for support .
NSPCC FREEPHONE HELPLINE (24 hrs):
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 : email@example.com or by text 88858
Contact can be made anonymously if the caller so wishes.
National Association for People Abused in ChildhoodFreephone 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 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.