Surge in calls after Medomsley Detention Centre abuse probe re-opens

Surge in calls comes after Medomsley Detention Centre sex abuse investigation appears on the BBC's Inside Out programme

Neville Husband
Neville Husband

More than 100 people have contacted police this week as claims that a sex abuse scandal at a North East detention centre was covered up are investigated.

Durham Police re-opened a probe into Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett, County Durham, last autumn after revelations of abuse in the late 1970s and early 1980s came to light in 2003.

It is thought hundreds of boys were targeted by sexual predators at the facility, which has since closed, and detectives have now said they are probing whether a cover up masked the full extent of the scandal.

Following a BBC Inside Out programme on Monday night which included a police appeal for witnesses or victims to get in touch, 108 people contacted police.

It is not yet clear how many of the people who responded are victims, witnesses or people with information about the case.

Medomsley Detention Centre made headlines in 2003 when two men who once worked there were prosecuted.

Predatory prison guard Neville Husband, a serial abuser of young boys who has since died, was convicted for sex attacks on nine youngsters while working at the centre.

Husband, from Shotley Bridge, County Durham , became a minister of Brighton Road and Cromer Avenue URC churches in Gateshead after 27 years in the prison service.

He was jailed for 12 years, and store man Leslie Johnson for six. Both men are now dead but the fight for justice goes on.

Solicitor David Greenwood, who is now representing 53 alleged victims, is calling for an independent inquiry into the facility.

He said: “There is clear evidence of prison officers turning a blind eye to serious and systematic abuse at Medomsley.

“I have also spoken to men who suffered serious and systematic physical abuse at other detention centres throughout the country.

“Future generations need to understand how and why state officials colluded in this way and to learn how to prevent it in the future.

“The intensity of the horrific abuse meted out at Medomsley has meant that many men have felt embarrassed or ashamed at coming forward previously.

“Now that they know that the police are taking the case seriously and are actively pursuing the perpetrators, many survivors of Medomsley feel able to come forward. They can do so anonymously.

“I would like to add that the brave men who have come forward to the police will be dealt with by skilled and sympathetic officers. Counselling will be offered. If justice is not achieved through prosecutions I am ready to help survivors achieve justice through the civil compensation process. My ultimate aim is to improve the quality of life for these men.” Det Supt Paul Goundry said police are now working with all of the individuals who have been in touch following the programme.

He said: “While we expect the vast majority of these will be victims who have not previously come forward, we can’t give an exact figure until the callers have been spoken to formally by the detectives working on the investigation.

“Some might be witnesses, for example or people who were not inmates at Medomsley but may have information.”

“As we have always said, we cannot be happy that so many people suffered abuse while inmates at Medomsley but we are pleased they have had the courage and the confidence in us to make contact. This also allows us to offer practical help and support to those who want it.”

If you were a victim of abuse at the centre or if you have any information relating to Medomsley Detention Centre, police can be contacted on 101.


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