POLICE investigating abuse claims at a North-East detention centre have been flooded with calls following renewed publicity about the scandal.
Durham Police said 108 calls were made after a report in The Northern Echo and a BBC Inside Out documentary on Medomsely Detention Centre aired on Monday night.
Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry who is leading the inquiry codenamed Operation Seabrook, said: “While we expect the vast majority will be victims who have not previously come forward, we cannot give a precise figure until they have been spoken to by the detectives working on the investigation.
“Some might be witnesses, for example, or people who were not inmates at Medomsley, but may have information.
“As we have always said, we cannot be happy that so many people suffered abuse while inmates at Medomsley, but we are pleased they have had the courage and the confidence in us to make contact.
“This also allows us to offer practical help and support to those who want it.”
A previous police investigation led to the conviction of prison officer Neville Husband, who was jailed for ten years for sexually abusing several teenagers at the former detention centre, near Consett, County Durham. He died of natural causes in 2010 after being released from prison.
Since the case was reopened in August, 143 more people have claimed they were victims of sexual or physical abuse at Medomsley from the late 1970s to 1980s – this is expected to increase following the latest calls.
Durham Police have established a support network including Rape Crisis, The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre and the NSPCC – and has now called in sexualised trauma expert and psychotherapist Zoe Lodrick to make a video for victims.
Ms Lodrick said: “Experiences of violence, brutality, sexual abuse and rape are profoundly traumatic.
“When those experiences take place in an environment of captivity they are especially so.
“Victims rarely react the way they might expect.
"Shock, horror and normal human survival reactions will frequently result in a passive defensive reaction.
“The mismatch between the victims' perception of what the victim would, or could, have done and what they actually did often compounds feelings of guilt and shame.
“More so if the abuse is cumulative and the victim reacts with passivity to each subsequent assault.”
She added: “Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry has invited me to Durham to make a short video to help those who were abused within Medomsley better understand their responses at the time, with the hope that with understanding some of the survivors will begin to let go of the guilt and shame they may have carried for decades."
Anyone with information should contact 101, visit a page set up on durham.police.uk or call The Meadows on 0191-301-8554. In crisis contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808-800-5000.