Medomsley Detention Centre in County Durham was a correctional facility for young male offenders, operating from 1961 until the late 1980s. It was created to provide an alternative prison for boys and young men aged 17-21, with the aim of deterring inmates from committing more serious crimes later in life.
WHAT HAPPENED AT MEDOMSLEY?
Reports of physical abuse started to emerge in 1967, when David Watkins MP raised concerns about the treatment of inmates at the facility, after hearing claims from a mother that her teenage son was subjected to repeated beatings. The victim spent five weeks in hospital receiving treatment.
Mr Watkins took his complaint to the then Home Secretary but was told the claim was unsubstantiated. The matter was not pursued.
However, in 2003, prison officer Neville Husband was convicted of raping inmates throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He was suspected of operating as part of a paedophile ring and further investigations led to the arrest of Leslie Johnson, a storeman at Medomsley.
In 2013, Durham Police Force launched ‘Operation Seabrook’ to investigate allegations of sexual and physical abuse, primarily in the 1970s and 1980s. To date, 1,848 men have come forward to police to report allegations of abuse while detained at the centre.
Both Husband and Johnson have since died in prison of natural causes, and further cases have been brought against other staff members working at the centre.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MEDOMSLEY VICTIMS?
It is believed that hundreds of boys and young men suffered at the hands of abusive staff at Medomsley, with a ‘short, sharp shock’ policy implemented to steer offenders away from a life of crime. However, the regime was, in fact, described as brutal and violent.
For some, the ordeal stretched to sexual abuse, with victims being raped ‘almost on a daily basis’.
Victims later told how their experiences there have had a major impact on the rest of their lives, with some reporting they hadn’t slept well for more than 30 years due to the severe anxiety and stress it caused.
HOW HAVE VICTIMS BEEN COMPENSATED?
It is estimated that In excess of £3 million has been awarded in out-of-court settlements to the victims of physical and sexual abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre.
Those who were physically abused can apply for between £1,750 and £5,000 subject to the amount of time served in Medomsley and permanent nature of injuries sustained.
Among those who suffered is victim Gary Wallace, who told the BBC that some wardens were “definitely sadistic”. He said: “If they did go a bit over and give you a black eye and you were due a visit they would cancel the visit by saying you weren’t too well, or you didn’t want to see them.”
WHAT TO DO IF YOU WERE A VICTIM AT MEDOMSLEY?
At Hampson Hughes, we have a team of highly experienced legal experts, who have acted for many victims of physical and sexual abuse, including those affected by the traumatic events at Medomsley Detention Centre. We recognise the trauma survivors have to deal with on a daily basis and handle all cases in a sensitive and confidential manner.
We are here to listen, advise and support you every step of the way. We provide access to the support services you need and ensure you achieve the compensation you deserve, so you can start to seek a sense of justice and closure.