THERE is an increasingly long list of place names that have become attached to abuse scandals in Britain and, sadly, Medomsley in County Durham is now joining that list.

It is estimated that 1,800 men have reported that they were abused, either physically or sexually, at the detention centre in the 1970s and 1980s.

Durham police do not believe it was systemic abuse but that individual members of staff – five were convicted in 2019 – acted opportunistically. However, it does seem that there was a culture of violence and fear at the centre.

The 1970s and 1980s are now a long time ago, and society had different standards. A clip round the ear might still have been acceptable but it is clear that behaviour at Medomsley went beyond that and was brutal and degrading.

After years of campaigning, the Lord Chancellor has finally accepted the need for an independent inquiry into what went on. That inquiry is welcome not just so that the men, whose lives have been blighted by their experiences in the centre, have their stories heard and validated.

It is also necessary to find out how much of a blind eye those outside the centre turned to what was going on inside, and to discover how leaders allowed that culture to develop in the centre. Institutions handling young men who have been convicted of crimes are likely to be tough places but part of their role, as well as punishment, is returning those in their care to society as better, even reformed, people.

Medomsley returned many of those in its care to society as abused and broken people. We must understand how it went so badly wrong if these institutions are going to play a positive role in society in the future.