Abuse inquiry into events which spanned decades at former detention centre

An investigation has been launched into what the authorities knew about the large-scale abuse of young detainees which spanned decades at a detention centre.

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) has launched an inquiry into what happened at Medomsley Detention Centre (pictured), near Consett, County Durham, from its opening in 1961 to its closure in 1987.

In one of the largest criminal inquiries of its kind, Durham Police have already spoken to hundreds of former detainees and more than 1,800 came forward to say they were abused by staff.

That led to the successful prosecution of former guards over a number of trials.

The Justice Secretary ordered the PPO to make inquiries into what went wrong.

Ombudsman Adrian Usher said: “We will endeavour to understand how this large-scale abuse was able to take place”.

Senior investigator Richard Tucker, who was hired to lead the PPO’s Operation Deerness, said: “We are looking for the truth and it is our goal to fully understand what took place.

“My plea is for more people to come forward and share their experiences with us.

“We will not be reinvestigating the facts of the abuse, nor the individual incidents, but we want to give everyone the opportunity to speak to us, if they wish to, so we can give them the chance to be heard.”

Mr Tucker has written an open letter to detainees and the PPO has published a video on YouTube.

He added: “I am saddened by the experiences of those who have approached us so far and it is my duty to find the truth.

“We respect that not everyone will want to speak to us, however we are keen to have any level of engagement with those who want to be involved so we can gain a full understanding of what went on.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact [email protected] or to call or text 07511 165 266.

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