DETECTIVES leading the country’s biggest investigation into historic sex abuse confirmed last night that they have interviewed 30 former members of staff at the North-East detention centre where young people say they were preyed on with no chance of escape.
And they revealed that the Crown Prosecution Service will decide in the next few months whether or not to bring criminal charges against staff who ran the notorious Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett.
A total of 1,254 victims have come forward to tell Durham Police that they were physically or sexually abused over a 30-year period.
The centre gained public notoriety when guard Neville Husband and accomplice Leslie Johnson were jailed for a reign of terror which saw them commit sex attacks on vulnerable young men, many of whom were briefly locked up for offences which would nowadays be dealt with by community orders.
Both men have since died.
One trainee was sexually abused after having a bread knife held to his throat, another was attacked after he stole marzipan and icing from a store.
Husband and storeman Johnson’s offending led Durham Police to launch Operation Seabrook, a huge investigation which has seen retired detectives brought back in to help with the in-depth inquiry.
Medomsley closed in 1988 and detectives have since traced former staff members who ran the centre.
Durham Police said it had interviewed 30 former prison officers, members of staff or governors. Two of the 30 were arrested on suspicion of physical and sexual assaults.
The investigative phase has finished, and senior figures are in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service and legal counsel about bringing charges in 2016.
Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, who has led the two-year investigation, said recently: “The aim is once this is finished it’s finished forever, we have to do it right, this investigation has to be meticulous.”
Lawyer David Greenwood, a specialist in the rights of survivors of sexual abuse, who represents some of the Medomsley victims had no criticism of the police.
“The commitment shown by Paul Goundry and his officers has been really first class,” he said.
“I think they are doing a tremendous job.”
“The scale of the inquiry just demonstrates how badly things can go wrong with institutional failures.
“This has not happened just at Medomsley, it can happen in local authorities, churches, prisons and hospitals around the country.”
Mr Greenwood, who works for West Yorkshire firm Switalskis, welcomed the fact that Medomsley would be included in the Goddard Inquiry, the national, independent investigation into child abuse, led by Dame Lowell Goddard QC.
He said: “Her inquiry has the power to get to the heart of allegations of collusion.”
Source: The Northern Echo