Concern at lack of a public inquiry into abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre

Medomsley Detention Centre was open from 1963 to 1987 and for a long time operated a ‘short sharp shock’ regime for young males aged between 17 and 21.
The former Medomsley detention centre.The former Medomsley detention centre.
The former Medomsley detention centre.

Many of those detained had never been in custody before. Some arrived having committed their first minor offence – offences which these days probably would not even go to court.

In 2003 Neville Husband was sent to prison for sexually abusing detainees. Leslie Johnson was also jailed in 2003 for sexual offences. Last year a further five more former employees were convicted of committing physical offences in Medomsley Detention Centre. There may be more prosecutions in due course.

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At Ben Hoare Bell LLP we represent a significant number of former detainees of Medomsley Detention Centre. As part of our action on behalf of our clients we have called for a Public Inquiry into what took place at Medomsley. We wrote to both the Chair to Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) and the then Home Secretary in April 2019 and argued that there needed to be either a change of terms of reference to IICSA (who can look at child sexual abuse only) or a decision by the Home Secretary to hold a full public inquiry into Medomsley.

Last month the Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) decided that IICSA will no longer investigate the scandalous and significant level of child sexual abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre over more than two decades.

On behalf of our clients we are disappointed with the Inquiry Chair’s Decision despite extensive representations that a different decision should be made.

Child sexual abuse at Medomsley was occurring alongside sexual abuse of young men (aged 18-21) and serious physical abuse of detainees of all ages (17-21). We have argued that the Inquiry must investigate ALL of the abuse. This is both for the sake of fairness to all victims and in order to properly understand how child sexual abuse could have taken place. The chair has decided that it would not be appropriate to seek to alter her terms of reference.

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We are disappointed that the then Home Secretary failed over a period of 6 months to even properly acknowledge our letter, let alone respond to it. We have now had a response from the Ministry of Justice that they are due to take a decision and we are seeking a full inquiry called by them.

We remain concerned that if the Ministry of Justice does not decide to conduct an inquiry into Medomsley, a situation could result in which no inquiry is planned into the worst scandal of abuse in prison in this country’s history.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP are instructed by more than 400 former inmates. If you were a detainee at Medomsley Detention Centre and wish to discuss matters please contact one of our specialist solicitors on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected]