Detectives have taken statements from more than 900 victims of abuse – with 200 referred for counselling
Police will this month arrest 18 prison officers — some still serving — as the investigation into Medomsley borstal becomes Britain’s largest sexual and physical abuse inquiry.
More than 900 victims have now come forward in the inquiry into the horrific abuse which took place at the detention centre in the 1970s and 80s.
A former prison governor – whose identity is known to the Daily Mirror – will also be questioned by Durham police in connection with the abuse probe.
Police are certain a paedophile ring was operating inside and outside of the unit taking advantage of dozens of vulnerable youngsters being away from home.
Abusers even took their victims out of the borstal to carry out their sickening sex attacks.
Detectives have taken statements from more than 900 victims of abuse – with 200 referred for counselling.
As a result a total of 24 prison officers were identified as suspects. Six have died since they worked at the borstal – however several are understood to still be working with the Prison Service.
A source said: “The level of abuse on show here is nothing like anything that has been seen in the UK in terms of the sheer scale of it.
“It’s even worse to think that some of those officers are still working in other prisons.”
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 youngster 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.
David Greenwood, a child abuse solicitor representing more than 100 abuse victims, said: “Medomsley borstal failed in its duty to keep these young men safe.
“I believe in each of the three cases there is a case to answer due to the neglect shown to these three men.
“If intent to cause harm can be shown then we could have manslaughter charges on our hands.” David Caldwell’s sister Carole Kyle, 53, believes her brother’s asthma may have been triggered by abuse.
She said: “I visited him twice while he was at Medomsley and saw injuries to his neck and legs.
“He was being kicked around by prison officers.
“When they were scrubbing the floors, if the boys didn’t say ‘sir’ it would happen.
“One day he didn’t say it and he was hit and slapped across the face. He didn’t want us to say anything about it because he thought it would get worse.
“Then he died of an asthma attack which I believe was linked to the abuse he was receiving.
“Now we want justice for what happened. We want to find out the truth.” Former inmate John McCabe, who was abused aged 17 at the detention centre, said: “Finally it feels like justice will be served at Medomsley.
“The investigation is going well and we hope to see some real results in the near future.”
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