Sexual abuse in child custody and residential schools

The Goddard Inquiry has announced that the sexual abuse of children in custodial institutions, and the sexual abuse of children in residential schools, will form two of its first 12 investigations.

The scope of the custodial investigation is summarised as follows:

“The Inquiry will investigate the nature and extent of, and institutional responses to, the sexual abuse of children in custodial institutions, including Secure Children’s Homes, Secure Training Centres, Youth Offender Institutions, and their precursor institutions (‘custodial institutions’). The investigation shall incorporate case specific investigations and a review of information available from published and unpublished reports and reviews, court cases, and previous investigations in relation to the abuse of children in custodial institutions.”

Medomsley detention centre, in Durham, will be one of this investigation’s case studies. Run by the Home Office between 1961 and 1987, Medomsley detained 17 to 21 year-olds. The first reports of physical abuse emerged in 1967, when a mother contacted her local MP. Today, Durham police is investigating 1,240 complaints of abuse by former inmates.

The scope of the residential schools investigation is summarised as follows:

“The Inquiry will investigate the nature and extent of, and institutional responses to, child sexual abuse in residential schools, including schools in the state and independent sectors and schools for children with disabilities and/or special educational needs. The inquiry will incorporate case specific investigations, a review of information available from published and unpublished reports and reviews, court cases, and investigations, and a consideration of the Inquiry’s own commissioned research.”

Article 39’s Director, Carolyne Willow, comments:

“We very much welcome the inclusion of custody and residential schools within the Inquiry’s first investigations. There is so much to be acknowledged about the abuse of children in these environments. The investigation on sexual abuse in custody is particularly significant because this will involve robust, independent scrutiny of the actions – and inactions – of those working in central government, including within the prison service.”     

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