MP calls for inquiry into all historic abuse in custody as Medomsley investigation continues

MP for North West Durham Pat Glass believes politicians' language can create culture in which abuse thrives

Pat Glass, MP for North West Durham
Pat Glass, MP for North West Durham

Historic abuse at youth detention centres should be investigated as part of an independent inquiry, a North East MP has said.

Pat Glass, who represents North West Durham, says the language politicians use to describe crime and punishment can be dangerous. She believes terms such as “short, sharp shock” create a culture in which abuse can thrive.

It comes after a probe was re-opened into the former Medomsley Detention Centre, which was near Consett in County Durham, last year where it is believed hundreds of boys were abused between the late 1960s and early 1980s. Police are dealing with more than 400 confirmed victims.

The Labour politician has raised the inquiry issue with Keith Vaz, who is chairman of the Home Affairs Committee.

“Some of the language politicians use is abhorrent,” said the Labour MP. “We hear language like ‘short, sharp shock’ and that has created a culture in which bad things can happen. I suspect this will go much wider than Medomsley and during this investigation we need to look at all historic abuse in custody.”

While many victims are believed to have suffered physical abuse, sexual predator Neville Husband is known to have targeted hundreds of young boys.

The prison guard was a serial abuser of young boys and was convicted for sex attacks on nine youngsters in 2003. He was jailed for 12 years and his accomplice Lesley Johnson, who was a storeman at the centre, for six years. Both men have since died.

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged he will provide Durham Police with any additional resources it needs. The investigation is among the largest the force has ever dealt with and the MP wants to ensure investigators unearth all wrongdoing.

Ms Glass added: “We need to make sure that the police have enough resources and that this investigation is thorough. When this has concluded and all matters have been before court then we need to take a longitudinal look at historic abuse in custody.”

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