THERESA May has faced calls for an independent public inquiry to examine a now-closed detention centre described as a "living hell" for young inmates.

Laura Pidcock said rape and torture were "commonplace" at Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett, but many victims are not covered by the wider Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse due to their age.

The North West Durham MP suggested a separate investigation to secure justice for them.

The Prime Minister expressed surprise at Ms Pidcock's remarks and pledged to examine the issue.

A Durham police investigation what happened at the centre from the 1960s to its closure 1988, has involved 1,800 witnesses.

The centre was designed to house 17 to 21-year-old offenders serving sentences for offences which today would not routinely get a custodial sentence.

Inmates would normally spend six to eight weeks at the Home Office-run centre.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, Ms Pidcock said: "Medomsley Detention Centre in my constituency was a living hell for the boys and young men sent there from across the UK in the 70s and 80s. Rape and torture were commonplace. "So far 1,800 men have bravely come forward to say they were affected. Some of those young men reported that abuse decades before the first person was convicted for some of those crimes committed.

"Nearly a year ago I met with the Home Secretary along with a victim of abuse at Medomsley to make the case for a public inquiry.

"Many of the victims are not covered by the inquiry into child sexual abuse because of their age. We need to know what happened at Medomsley, we need justice for survivors and we need to make sure it never happens again.

"Will the Prime Minister please say we can have an independent public inquiry into the abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre?"

Mrs May said she took the issue very seriously.

She said: "First of all, the independent inquiry into child abuse is looking into historic cases of abuse in institutions, in state institutions, and they're doing that on a step-by-step basis in the areas they're looking at.

"But I will look at the issue– I was surprised at the statement she made that the Medomsley Detention Centre cases weren't able to be covered by that inquiry and I will certainly look at that issue."