Arrests Over County Durham Detention Centre Abuse

6 November 2014, 16:18 | Updated: 7 November 2014, 06:19

Police investigating historic sexual and physical abuse at a detention centre in County Durham are to arrest a number of ex-prison officers.

It comes after 900 potential victims came forward.

An organised paedophile ring was believed to have operated in the 1970s and 1980s at Medomsley Detention Centre near Consett.

Last year police began a fresh investigation into abuse at the centre for young offenders, who were mostly convicted of minor crimes.

Since then 900 former inmates have come forward, and almost 200 have gone on to have counselling or support.

Durham Police are about to start interviewing former Medomsley employees, many of them as potential witnesses to alleged offences. Some were expected to be arrested.

None of them are still working in the prison service.

Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, who is leading the investigation, said:
"The investigation into the reports of sexual or physical abuse at Medomsley, called Operation Seabrook, is very much ongoing and it would not be in the interests of the investigation or the victims to discuss in detail our plans.

However, we can confirm there are a number of people we plan to speak to over the next few weeks, all of whom are ex-members of staff at the centre.

I can confirm we have heard from more than 900 former inmates of Medomsley and I am pleased that nearly 200 of them have taken up the offer of specialist counselling or professional support.

We remain committed to supporting the victims, establishing the fullest picture we can of how Medomsley operated over those years and gathering the evidence needed for any prosecutions which may follow.''

In 2003 a previous police investigation led to the conviction of Neville Husband, an ex-prison officer at the centre.

Husband was initially sent to jail for eight years after being found guilty of abusing five youngsters.

The publicity surrounding the trial led to others coming forward and Husband was subsequently jailed for a further two years for these attacks.

After being released from prison he died from natural causes in 2010.

Husband, who had also been a church minister, was in charge of the kitchens at Medomsley and would single out youths for sexual abuse, particularly those who had been in care and did not have strong family ties.

His former colleague Leslie Johnson, a storeman, was jailed for six years in 2005 for sexual offences. He has also since died.

Police originally believed the pair were operating alone, but that view has changed after speaking to many victims.