More than 200 people have contacted detectives claiming to be the victims of historic sex attacks at a North East borstal.
Durham Constabulary launched a new investigation into the Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett, last year after receiving fresh allegations that inmates were being ferried off the grounds and sexually abused between the late 1960s and mid-80s.
It’s thought the scandal is one of the worst cases of mass scale abuse at a Government-run institution seen in this country, prompting the force to assign 80 detectives and the full resources of its Major Crimes Team to investigate the claims.
Senior prison officer Neville Husband was convicted of sex abuse offences in 2003. He died in 2010 following his release from prison.
Now detectives have confirmed that 232 complaints were made to police over the past week by victims claiming to be the subject of sexual abuse at the centre, bringing the total to 375.
Det Supt Paul Goundy said: “Our aims all along have been to gain a clearer picture of what happened at Medomsley, obtain evidence which may lead to a criminal prosecution and, most importantly, to leave the victims in a better place than they were before.
“The recent coverage in the media has brought forward another 230 people who might not otherwise have contacted us. That suggests these victims have a level of confidence in us and feel we can help and support them.
“As our enquiries continue we are constantly learning, not only from the victims but all the agencies we are working alongside, such as the NSPCC and the Sexual Assault Referral Centre at The Meadows.
“I think at the end of this investigation we will have some very important learning points to take on board, not just for ourselves but for the police nationally.”
It is thought hundreds of young boys – most of whom were behind bars for crimes that would today warrant a community penalty – were systematically targeted by sexual predators. Husband, a serial abuser of young boys, was convicted for sex attacks on nine youngsters in 2003. Before his prosecution and after 27 years’ working for the Prison Service he was a minister with the Brighton Road and Cromer Avenue URC churches in Gateshead.
He was jailed for 12 years and his accomplice Lesley Johnson, who was a store man at the centre, for six. Johnson has also since died.