This month police will arrest 18 prison officers as the investigation into Medomsley Detention Centre becomes Britain’s largest sexual and physical abuse inquiry.

More than 900 victims have now come forward, with 200 referred for counselling, in the inquiry into the abuse which took place in the 1970s and 80s.

A former prison governor will also be questioned by Durham police in connection with the abuse probe. Police are certain a paedophile ring was in operation to take advantage of dozens of vulnerable young men while away from home. Abusers even took their victims out of the borstal to carry out attacks.

As a result of detectives taking statements a total of 24 prison officers were identified as suspects. Six have died since they worked at Medomsley, however several are understood to still be working with the Prison Service.

Police have also reviewed the deaths of three teenagers at the detention centre, including 17-year-old David Caldwell, who suffered an asthma attack in January 1982. Only a few months earlier another inmate, 18-year-old Ian Shackleton, died after slipping into a coma following an alleged mix up over access to his insulin. A third teenager died in January 1981 of hypothermia after fellow inmates claim he was forced to exercise in the yard in the freezing cold by bullying guards.

In a quote taken from The Mirror earlier this week, Michael McCann MP, who has campaigned for the investigation to be opened, said: “The abuse inflicted at Medomsley has ruined lives and the perpetrators have so far been allowed to get away with it. The arrest phase of the investigation is a big step forward for the victims.”

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