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How can the prison service move on if it won't apologise for child abuse?

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How can the prison service move on if it won't apologise for child abuse?

As a prison correspondent, few stories have angered me as much as the abuse of young detainees by Neville Husband

Eric Allison

guardian.co.uk, Monday 16 April 2012 16.22 BST


The prison service says it has come 'a long way' since the 1980s. Photograph: Richard Addison/PA


As prisons correspondent for the Guardian, I have covered many stories that have angered me. It could hardly be otherwise, writing as I am about a penal system that fails so spectacularly in so many areas.

But I have never been more enraged than in researching and co-writing a piece about sexual abuse in prisons.

The story was about perhaps the most prolific sex offender this country has ever seen. Neville Husband was a prison officer who, in 1969, was moved from Portland borstal, Dorset, to the Medomsley detention centre, county Durham, where he ran the kitchen for 15 years. It is likely that, on every working day of that period, he sexually abused young detainees in his charge. Those were young, vulnerable boys, many of them from the care system, too terrified to complain.

My anger is not directed at Husband, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail for his crimes, and is now dead. It is instead aimed at the system and those in it who, at all levels, protected him and betrayed his victims. They are fellow officers who, at Husband's trial, testified they knew "something was going on". "Husband used to keep one boy behind in the kitchen at night," said one, "we always felt sorry for that boy." Felt sorry? Then why didn't you do something about it and put an end to Husband's reign of terror, an end to the misery his victims suffered? I am also angry at the various governors at Medomsley, who approved Husband's request to stay there when promotion and transfer beckoned. Angry at those who knew of his previous arrest for possession of child pornography ? depicting teenage boys ? while he was at Portland. (Husband was not charged, because he was "thinking about writing a book on homosexuality" and the material seized was for "research".) I'm angry at Durham police officers who ignored the complaints of some of the victims who went to them after being released and who failed to move on him even after an accomplice of his had been arrested for abuse, and told them he had "been given a boy" by Husband.

My anger is also directed at people at the top of the prison service who, when some victims sought compensation, fought the claim all the way to the House of Lords. Politicians like then minister of justice Jack Straw who said, after those victims hoped the system would apologise to them, that "an apology was not part of the settlement". Really, Mr Straw? You could not say sorry to victims who, in some cases, were tied up and raped by an officer of the crown? And let's not forget the current prison service which responded to our request for a comment on Husband's abuse thus: "In the late 1970s, several detainees held at Medomsley detention centre were physically and sexually abused by Neville Husband. At no stage has the Ministry of Justice attempted to defend the actions of Mr Husband. The prison service has come a long way since the 1980s and significant efforts have been made to eliminate, so far as is possible, the mistreatment of prisoners."

"Several" detainees? Any rational examination of the evidence against Husband would conclude he abused hundreds, possibly thousands, of boys during his awful tenure. As for not defending Husband's actions, fighting compensation claims all the way to the House of Lords looks pretty much like defending his actions to me. The prison service did not bother to send an observer to Husband's trial and told the victims' lawyers it had "no plans" to carry out a review, or investigation, after the civil action. The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute Husband over alleged abuse at Deerbolt young offenders institution because it would "not be in the public interest". Is that "moving on"?

In order to "move on" from a problem, it has to be first acknowledged and then addressed. There still has never been an inquiry into how Husband was allowed to abuse so many people over so many years, and to try to ensure it never happens again. As Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, told the Guardian: "It would be dangerously complacent to imagine these things could only happen in the past. There is always a danger that in closed institutions ? be they prisons, children's homes or hospitals ? abusive behaviour by some staff becomes the accepted norm. We need to recognise the vulnerability inherent in the situation of every detainee."

We were alerted to this horror story by a powerful no-budget film, Adam Rickwood and the Medolmsley Heroes, produced by Pie and Mash Films. It was never broadcast but is available on YouTube. It is a long and angry account of the anguish caused by Husband, exacerbated by the system that protected him. It does not make comfortable viewing. Those who betrayed the boys in their charge ought to be made to watch it.

 A true horror story: The abuse of teenage boys in a detention centre



The prison service and police knew of his interest in young boys. So how did Neville Husband get away with the abuse of teenagers in his care? By Eric Allison and Simon Hattenstone


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HCollider1
18 April 2012 9:34PM



 Response to gratifymenow, 18 April 2012 12:48AM


I think prisoners are often kept too far from family. We do have a problem in the service where prisoners with behaviour issues are often moved around to enable them to be dealt with. They then end up a long way away from home by default. We don't always have that right.

I have experience of having to deal with prisoners without doing this as there was nowhere for them to go to (there is a point at which they reach the top of the tree as such) and then we had to work on how we encouraged them to modify behaviour in one place instead.

One of the big issues is not really 'bad' behaviour as such (pure discipline issues born of bad behaviours are not that hard to handle in a sense, though they present a risk and danger to staff and other prisoners) it is the number of prisoners with mental illnesses either classed untreatable or classed suitable to be treated in prison and their behaviour.

It's incredibly difficult to deal with mental illness in a custodial prison setting and prisoners do end up moving around as a result (frankly staff and other prisoners actually need a break from them too). The whole issue of behaviour caused by mental illness is a very difficult one inside. My experience is that these prisoners, who are simply not suited to a prison setting, consume resources and are in themselves not being aided by the system. Managing them is a constant challenge. They are in my view in the wrong place. Its a hidden problem and not everyone with a mental illness causes issues but those that do are really hard to cope with in a 'regular' prison setting. There are similar issues with very vulnerable young prisoners where you can't manage them in 'regular' custody but often don't have an institutional framework to do much else..we are a one size fits all system trying to change to suit all sizes.

What is not on is for these prisoners to be ill treated and what we in the PS have to remember is that people are not only 'a problem' they are still an individual. Its easy to forget that in a big institution. Its a key thing for us to get right. We are very driven by numbers and KPIs and conflicting requirements but the bottom line is that the best work inside is done by staff (custodial and non) with prisoners.

There was a recent publicised case where a prisoner was moved to avoid inspection contact, I can only say internally there have been some serious consequences to that and anyone who does it is simply wrong. The BoV and other scrutiny is much more 'all over' problem prisoners than they used to be (rightly).

Moving people around wings or prisons wouldn't avoid scrutiny in the same way (the fact the prisoner move mentioned above actually came to light highlights this).

I also think this has been matched with a change in how we try and view prisoners like this and how we should hold people to account when prisoners are mistreated. Moving someone for GOAD and beating them up was not unusual (sad to say) in the 80's in particular. I didn't work in the Service then but everyone knows about it.

Now there is a conscious effort to change. The mix of staff has also changed a lot and as a result I don't think the same will to behave like a racist thug is the culture in most places now. The PS culture changed a lot under Martin Narey in particular and that balance we are always trying to strike between security and regime has finally started to be taken seriously. We still don't always get it right but more people want to make sure we try. That tips the balance.




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HCollider1
18 April 2012 9:07PM



 Response to Gauss, 17 April 2012 10:44PM


I wasn't apologising, I did say in this case there should be an apology and rightly so. I think that should come from the Service and Ministers. I think you are looking for anything to be a problem and that is fine but to be honest I prefer to look for solutions.

I believe in people being required to behave well, both prisoners and prison staff. To run an effective, safe institution that comes as close to achieving what its meant to as possible then you have to require a high standard of staff and role model that through to prisoners. Just because people are in prison it doesn't absolve them of the need to have a standard required of them. Holding people to account in the right way is important for everyone inside.

If you think progress and being told about it is a waste of time that's ok but how will you ever find out if things have changed if you don't want to hear about it? That brings back my previous point that some people don't want things to change or have changed because it suits their perspective on prisons or you see all staff as liars (which I know not to be the case which is why I replied). When these things happen they are wrong but the service has and can change.

I don't believe in making excuses for what happened at this prison to these kids or indeed for any prison where (and I don't think that the accounts given here by ex prisoners from the wider system are untrue either, these things did happen and still happen but now they are being actively reduced and tackled and there is the difference). I do believe that encouraging good spreads good. I do feel very sad when I read accounts of ill treatment, racism and thuggery but we didn't all join the service to join in with that and that's what I am trying to put across.

On a seperate note I'd also like to say thanks for the debate to the different people involved..it is a fact that everyone inside, with keys or without can learn things from each other, even if it seems a slightly strange concept to people on the outside.

I hope the right apology is given in the end. I hope people get the help they need to be able to deal with what happened.

The PS has to move forwards so it doesn't happen again and that is what the right staff are working towards.




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calderwood
18 April 2012 7:45PM




The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear. ~ " There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death, again and again, before we reach the mountain top of our desires "- Nelson Mandela -

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.




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calderwood
18 April 2012 7:26PM



 Response to survivor2, 18 April 2012 9:24AM


Well said !!! a fellow inmate i spoke to yesterday, ended our talk with these final words "We do not leave our wounded behind " we need to find them first ?...Eric has began that process ! What will we do ? Please mail me your Phone No. i was in such shock yesterday i didnt save it....Our Day Will Come !!!




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survivor2
18 April 2012 9:24AM




this is my last comment. children are a gift what kind of adults they become depends on what kind of upbringing they have. if like me its bad they are likely to become bad. a lot of children are born as a by product of sex with no thought for their future they need nurturing and teaching the right moral standards through example from the people they love and look up to. as long as we keep producing children with no moral compass and not enough love and care we are just supplying fodder for people like husband. i don't know how we can educate parents today. i myself have brought my children up to know right from wrong in all aspects of life because of what happened to me. i don't know what kind of parent i would of been if i had not been abused. i do know that we must stop the abusers by all means possible the least being to take away their ability to get aroused. some people will say thats going to far but until we find a better solution we must protect our children by any method we have.




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gratifymenow
18 April 2012 12:48AM




A thousand apologies for my mistake! I entered the prison system at a time when women were not allowed to work in the male regime. I don't want to get distracted by the pedantic he said she said mind games that always end up in displaying dominance by pointing out mistakes!

Yes, you are right deprivation of liberty is the punishment, which is supposed to be administered in prisons.

For those of us who know the difference between what it says on the mission statement and what actually goes on there are differing levels of policy. For example, punishments within prisons are supposed to be found in Standing Orders, but we also know that these are evaded by unofficial policies, the most common of which was allocating a prisoner further and further away from his family in an attempt to influence his behaviour. Another is the infamous ghost train, whereby prisoners were moved from cell block to cell block within the 28 day period so that they could not access independent scrutiny. Is this written anywhere? Does it happen?

In my days, at Gartree in the 80's, for example a move under SO 10/74 for a G.O.A.D "Lie Down" to HMP Birmingham, "Winson Green" (a notorious prison for beatings) actually meant a not bad lie down on D3, Whereas a 10/74 Lie Down to HMP Lincoln, did mean a beating and a severe one at that. One prisoner (Billy Adams) went on 3 successive Lie Downs over 3 successive Decembers and came back after Christmas with 3 three broken ribs and he lost several stones in weight. Another prisoner, Koroush Fouladi, an Iranian, was sent to Lincoln about 6 months before the end of his sentence and deportation and came back and called me down to the wing gate and showed me his feet where they had stubbed cigarettes out on them. I felt rather embarrassed and found it difficult to believe that we can do this in England in the 20th Century. Is this a coincidence?

Unfortunately we live in a blame culture but to disregard a whole sector of unofficial punishments which are known about at the very top is to demean those who come to the fore and tell the truth.

My personal bugbear is Joint Enterprise at the moment! Prosecutions are carried out on young people on the basis of mere presence on the scene of a crime. A look or a glance can be construed as intention. Turning your head and pretending it doesn't exist is not an option!




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Sigmund003
17 April 2012 11:39PM




To HC Collider and SO 1963
I too only blame those involved with the turning a blind to what was going on and destroying all the evidence. The police who were being told what he was doing as people were leaving the centre, they did nothing, and the local police chief did visit the centre every week as well- something to do with inmates who would attempt to escape.

As I said in a previous post most of the survivors I have met all agree that the prison system has undergone huge changes for the better over the years, but without addressing the past mistakes that were made, the future is built on shaky ground, all I really ask for is an apology and inquiry into what happened back then- in order for those in today?s establishment can know how bad it could get and how endemic abuse can become if it?s not dealt with professionally and honestly.

I thank you for your contributions to these posting and I?m sure we all have a greater understanding of the two worlds so far apart.

Sorry about my typing Im a bit tired.




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Sigmund003
17 April 2012 11:32PM




To HC Collider and SO 1963

I too only blame those involved with the turning a blind to what was going and destroying evidence the police who were being told what he was doing as people were leaving the centre and they did nothing, The local police chief did visit the centre every week as well something to do with inmates who would attempt to escape.

As I said in a previous post most of the survivors I have met all agree that the prison system has undergone huge changes for the better over the years, but without addressing the past mistakes that were made in the past all I really ask for is an apology and inquiry into what happened back then in order for those in today?s establishment can how bad it could get and home endemic abuse can become if it?s not dealt with professionally and honestly.

I thank you for your contributions to these posting and I?m sure we all have a greater understanding of the two worlds so far apart.




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survivor2
17 April 2012 11:14PM



 Response to HCollider1, 17 April 2012 10:30PM


I would just like to say that i think you are one of the conscientious officers that does care. and there are a lot of you. but there are some bad. i went through the system and met a lot of good ones (more than bad) and i hope you don't take what i have said as a criticism of the whole system its not although i was angry at some of the things you said you are only human like the rest of us i hope you continue to be vigilant and caring for the rest of your career.




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Gauss
17 April 2012 10:44PM



 Response to HCollider1, 17 April 2012 4:57PM


That is a more positive response, but do you really think that we should expect no more of professional prison officers than we do of prisoners?

That might just be the problem. I expect professionals to act like professionals. I have no right to expect anything of a prisoner, least of all that they behave 'professionally'.

There's no need for the apologetics . We know that not every apple in the barrel is rotten. But we also know that one rotten apple rots the rest, and if the barrel itself is rotten the whole crop is gone. Why waste time reassuring us about all the lovely new barrels instead of getting on with getting rid of the rotten ones?

That's the only thing the survivors need from you and your colleagues. The courage to do what has to be done. Now.




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HCollider1
17 April 2012 10:30PM



 Response to survivor2, 17 April 2012 5:13PM


I don't think it should have been a punishment, its not what its meant to be about..and you are right.

My experience (obviously a different side of things but all of us who have been inside share an experience people on the out simply haven't had) is that bad institutions attract and keep bad staff. It's interesting to look at things like the Stanford experiment to understand how these things happen and they continue to happen because some people endorse it but its actually more down the majority ignoring it.

The PS has a good number of people in it now who simply won't look the other way. And they can say something in the majority of places. Where they can't need to change and uniformed ranks and the POA and management grades and PSHQ need to join together to change them.

Culturally those places were (and could still be) sick and I am sorry to say you ended up in one. I absolutely can't imagine what that must have been like. But it was a sick place, not down to you. I hope they offer you an apology.

I was quite surprised to see Martin Narey's comments on sex offenders inside prison and to be (if one can be) charitable I think he was dealing with the wider and far less well concealed problem of racism and violence before sex offending. The PS tried to address the most obvious things first and all one can really say to that is you have to start somewhere, but equally you can't ignore a whole institution gone to the dogs.

These sick places have to be kicked out of the state they are in and it takes two sets of people to do it, prison management and prison staff (the two are not always aligned indeed if we were a more united service we would be a better one).

The Service does need to ask hard questions and learn from them.

There was another article on here today about two suicides in the YOI population and how they attract little public attention. I've experienced a number of them and they deserve more looking than they get but in a constructive way, or you run the risk of throwing the good (which I know is in the PS) out with the bad.

Eric is correct and it is about flushing out the bad. There are not that many bad officers in total..it takes colleagues who stand with them on the landing every day to 'shop' them however and then live with it. I think a more positive attitude to the PS in general would help with creating a better culture. The PS these days is better equipped to change because it is not how it was.




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survivor2
17 April 2012 8:41PM



 Response to calderwood, 17 April 2012 7:28PM


no problem feel free to get in touch anytime you feel the need.




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EricAllison
17 April 2012 8:19PM




First, many thanks for the numbers of posts expressing support and sympathy for the victims. I speak to some of the lads on a regular basis and I know how uch it is appreciated.
It may well be that some new information has come to light as a result of answers to this blog. Be assured it will be followed up.Some of those who aided/ abetted/turned a blind eye to Husband, may have thought the passage has of time has made them safe. It has not.
To HC Collider and SO 1963; you are both right, the prison service has improved and especially in relation to staff and governors attitudes to prisoners. I am on record as saying that, on my last two sentences, in the 90s, I met more decent staff than in all the previous four decades.But there is not an inch of room for complacency; abuse still goes on; nothing like on the scale of yesteryear, but it does go on.Mainly physical and mental abuse, I believe(Though I receive some disturbing reports of women prisoners being abused by male officers.The same names keep cropping up and other staff must know who these people are. I repeat, not widespread, but the evidence indicates it goes on)
As for physical and mental abuse, certain prisons have bad reputations; Frankland, Wakefield and the special unit at Woodhill being to the fore. The reports from these places-and one or two more- are too frequent and too consistent to ignore. And again, the same names keep cropping up.
And it is not that long ago, a female officer, at Wakefield was was forced to resign after a months of terrifying harrassment from male colleagues. She was awarded compensation and the then Director General, Phil Wheatley said"This must never happen again in any prison." It did, about a year later. Where? Wakefield.If these thugs can treat colleagues this way, what chance have the cons?
So please, both of you, continue to treat prisoners in the decent, i'm sure, way you do.But help to flush out those who don't.




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calderwood
17 April 2012 7:28PM



 Response to survivor2, 16 April 2012 7:14PM


Thanks for call this aftenoon brother....




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survivor2
17 April 2012 5:13PM



 Response to HCollider1, 17 April 2012 4:40PM


if it wasn't a punishment why was it called short sharp shock? as for the brutality was this metered following guidelines set out by the home office. were we all the same or did we need different levels of brutality according to our offences? or was it the same for every young boy. i spent most of my early years being brutalised for feeding myself i was starved by my parents. i also would like to know where the ps found so many sadistic officers to carry out the short sharp shock treatment. in medomsley i witnessed officers kicking boys along the corridor after they had collapsed after a bout of bunny hops. did these officers receive training in measured brutality or were they hand picked because they were sadistic bastards. as for me i could take a beating it didnt bother me so it would of been wasted. what i suffered from Husband different i had never had sex with anybody at that time. i have been with my wife for thirty years and still feel guilty after sex. there is a need i have but there is always guilt afterwards. thats my punishment so dont tell me that prison is not punishment i am serving life with no chance of parole




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Sigmund003
17 April 2012 5:11PM




I believe HCollider is being judged as others from the service and she does not deserve it She is pointing out some basic facts, that there have been many changes in the prison service and indeed too many to mention but that should not take away the culpability of those who were involved in this case.

I was a victim of Neville Husband and I can say that not all officers in prisons then were bad far from it in some places I met some decent officers who actually did care however saying that I just cant say the same for the youth custody back then, because we were youngsters we were easier to manipulate and frighten and when your in an adult setting things are different.

So no not all prison staff are evil like husband but back then there were a lot who came from the army and other forces background who only knew one way to deal with young recruits and that was harsh, nothing in comparison to what husband done to me. When you went to Medomsley you were beaten in the reception by two or three big officers and that was your first portent of things to come. I know that these places were harsh and lads at the time took it as the norm for the place at that time.

Husband and his band of cohorts was a different league to anything I and many others had to endure. Predominantly sexual and physical abuse for which he served a prison sentence of ten years, I am just learning about others who have come forward and the numbers a going up as people are reading this story.

There a number of questions to be asked of the Homeoffice and others who still work in related industries today like Timothy Charles Newell O.B.E, and other officers some I believe are still actually working in young offenders in the northeast.




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HCollider1
17 April 2012 4:57PM



 Response to Gauss, 17 April 2012 4:55AM


Actually most of us are all too aware this involves people still in the Service, at all levels.

That doesn't mean the whole service has stood still or not changed or everyone in it is bad..have a look at SO1963's post for an example of something someone has done right (and I can also relate to how people treat you when you expose this sort of thing I am afraid, but it shouldn't stop anyone doing it and only by enough people being counted do things change and I believe they are changing).

This isn't rare, this is what good Officers do every day.

I support the hard questioning and holding to account of the people who served and ran the prisons in which this offender served as an Officer. I don't turn my face away from hard realities.

I believe people should be held accountable for their actions or I wouldn't have joined the PS in the first place.

In my case I believe that to be true of staff and prisoners.

I think the overwhelming impression I get from some of these posts is that people should be held to different standards. I think one standard, a high one, is good for staff and prisoners both. Its time people stood up for what they are accountable for..its not actually saintly to have been in a prison or run one.

The boys this man abused do deserve an apology but not everytthing is still rotten in the state of Denmark I am afraid..life isn't all convenient and pre packed in that regard.

There are many things still to do but it isn't the age of the Chief and the NF and staff on the landing calling you worse names than any prisoner could think of any more and the way to tell that is to get indoors.

One way to improve the system is to do what's right inside, every single day. I don't think any Prison Officer expects to be given credit for that, but I'd hope people might occasionally think its a positive.




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HCollider1
17 April 2012 4:40PM



 Response to gratifymenow, 17 April 2012 1:22AM


Firstly, he is a she. I realise its a common perception that everyone in prison is male and Governors must be male as well but lots of prisoners are women and Governors, of male and female institutions, can be female too. All the 'mr this' and 'mr that' to make a point does seem as a result a little misplaced.

I made the point it is ridiculous to suggest this was a policy, which was what the post above mine said. It is ridiculous to assume that allowing rape is a policy in any prison to ensure control I am afraid. The result of allowing it is lack of control, as was obviously the case in this prison, hence I believe the need for an apology.

Yes there were prisons in the 80s and 90s which were obviously bad but things have changed, however much people would prefer them not to have done so. Its easier to write as if nothing has changed than it is to come to a reasoned conclusion about how things need to move further forward. Do things still need to improve. Of course. Are they like they were. Sorry, no.

I agree that those who allowed this to continue are complicit and believe I made that clear.

Prison is not punishment incidentally, deprivation of liberty is the punishment.

I don't believe that everyone in the PS is somehow responsible for this act though hard questions should be asked of those in charge at the time and they include of Governors who have gone on to distinguish themselves in the very ways people here would hope after this happened.

It is inevitable that people bring different views to a debate like this one but the prevalent thought is that the PS is like the 80s now and it isn't.




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dmac2001
17 April 2012 2:25PM




everything about the accounts of those abused detailed in your article horrifies me: the cycle of care home's, the imprisonment of juveniles for petty offences - especially aiding and abetting - the tolerance among staff and governors of sexual offences by Husband & other co-workers, the police's refusal to begin investigations, the CPS's refusal and inability to begin prosecutions and especially the HO's and Jack Straws approach to fighting the cases and claims for compensation. This, to me, is evidence of a criminal complicity; a complicity that amounts to aiding and abetting what was done in the past and what is happening now. It's an institutional horror story as much as it is a personal horror story. Once you begin to add the numerous accounts of judicial mistreatment and abuse of women, people with mental health issues and people from ethnic minorities into this history of abuse you have a Victorian Gothic horror story that beggars belief and shames us all.




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dmac2001
17 April 2012 2:25PM




everything about the accounts of those abused detailed in your article horrifies me: the cycle of care home's, the imprisonment of juveniles for petty offences - especially aiding and abetting - the tolerance among staff and governors of sexual offences by Husband & other co-workers, the police's refusal to begin investigations, the CPS's refusal and inability to begin prosecutions and especially the HO's and Jack Straws approach to fighting the cases and claims for compensation. This, to me, is evidence of a criminal complicity; a complicity that amounts to aiding and abetting what was done in the past and what is happening now. It's an institutional horror story as much as it is a personal horror story. Once you begin to add the numerous accounts of judicial mistreatment and abuse of women, people with mental health issues and people from ethnic minorities into this history of abuse you have a Victorian Gothic horror story that beggars belief and shames us all.




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Jane17
17 April 2012 1:38PM




Absolutely shocking. The lack of apology and the fact that the Home Office fought every allegation just makes me feel incredibly depressed. The men who have survived this have been so brave in their fight and are an inspiration. I would be very interested in hearing more about Narey and Newell. Does no one else find Narey's final quote in the article particularly disturbing?




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SteB1
17 April 2012 1:37PM




Good righteous indignation.

To me one of the most incredible things is what Martin Narey, the former head of the Prison Service said, and a person who only left the job in 2005.



Narey admits that, when he was running it, the prison service dealt inadequately with sexual abuse in prisons. "As director general, I was intolerant of physical abuse and racism, and sacked a lot of staff? But at that time there was very little awareness of male-on-male sexual abuse, either in prisons or in wider society."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/apr/13/abuse-teenage-boys-detention-centre-crime?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

Are we really expect to believe this self justificationary nonsense? That a system which locked up and held male on male abusers for years was unaware of male on male sexual abuse. There have been cases involving those working in the care system etc, for years who have been convicted for abusing boys and young men in their care. Presumably they were locked up in the same prisons Martin Narey ran. But he apparently lived in a parallel universe where these things were not known about.

The really shocking thing about all this is the whole criminal justifice system is premised by the principle that offenders need to be confronted with their culpability and be made to own up to it and accept responsibility for what they did. But clearly this does not extend to itself. The term "denial" seems too polite for this obdurate refusal to accept responsibility or even apologise. It is not just this case, just think of the police in cases such as the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting. Those in the criminal justice system and the politicians that oversee it are very good at getting on their moral high horses and being sanctimonious about others. Barely a week goes by without them treating us to their speeches from the moral highground about the moral deficits of the plebs. However, the evidence is that whilst they are good at dishing it out, they are piss poor at accepting even the most basic responsibility when these sickening sanctimonious hypocrites are found wanting themselves.




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Gauss
17 April 2012 1:04PM



 Response to calderwood, 17 April 2012 12:16PM


Only one of the bastards is dead. That governor needs to explain how he could have remained unaware of what was happening when so many of the officers testified that they knew.

I hope you get your justice chasing the rest of them down. Best of luck, and good wishes to you and the other survivors.




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SO1963
17 April 2012 1:03PM




I currently work in the Prison Service and have done for over 20 years. I have nothing but sympathy for the young boys (now adults) who found themselves the victims of this animal. I have nothing but shame towards those people who obviously turned a blind eye to what was going on and then purgered themselves in court. But to blame the entire Prison Service effectively blames everyone within it and this is in itself wholly unfair. I, in the past, have witnessed colleagues of mine involved in things that should never have been allowed to happen and I have taken action by reporting those actions but unfortunately in most cases little more than an off the record slap on the wrist has been the outcome. I have been hated and verbally abused by some staff who have found out that I was the one that reported the incident (I wonder how they found out it was me I wonder !) but I stand by my actions and would do the same again.
As in any organisation there are good and bad people but I honestly believe that the good outweigh the bad and those good people take their position and level of responsibility very seriously.
Todays Prison Service is not the Service that I joined I am happy to say, an enormous amount of changes have occurred but unfortunately most of these good changes cannot be implemented because of cuts to staff numbers, budgets cuts and dare I say it.............a weak management structure mainly caused by a lack of experience and knowledge of what should be done and how it can be done.




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calderwood
17 April 2012 12:16PM




I am sick to the stomach ! regarding Medolmsley DC and Husband, i served 9 months under that tyrant, he mentally, physically, emotionally, and sexually abused me on a daily basis, within the detention centre and also he had the authorization from the governor to take us from their to serve teas at a local church, whilst stopping off at his home on the way. It was torture, i was from Scotland and was ideal for this predator as i got no visits and all my mail was read by him prior to it being sent, at the time 3 weeks was the normal sentence for the centre, but 9 months was a life time, every adult working in the establishment including the priest knew what was going on, he held knives to my throat, burned my hands with cigarettes for his sexual pleasures. The killler for myself is that i thought it was only happening to myself, and only found out he had been caught,. by luck as i came across a news article regarding he had just been released after his 10years, Why was there no investigation at the time ? why were all ex - inmates not interviewed ? that is a crime on its own ! I contacted Durham Constabulary who to their credit came to Scotland and interviewed myself right away, after 6 hours of interviews the had enough information to go back and arrest him and interview him, he was released on a curfew and was living in a hostel under the watchful eye of the police, he was brought in a second time and interviewed, but replied no comment to all questions. The Durham police told me they had enough evidence from myself to send to the CPS and were confident that he would be charged, part of my evidence was that i could after 31 years describe his home, outside and inside, bedrooms information that they had never came across, I received a letter from the CPS months later " This was the first time in history " that a judge has ever wrote to ! as he called me a victim, he stated that there was enough evidence to prosecute, but believed it was not in the public's interest to take him to trial. The Animal called Husband died weeks later, i never go my justice anybody who would like to contact myself for anything regarding this story can do at [email protected]




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Chopsy76
17 April 2012 11:48AM




What a devastating article, I cannot believe this was allowed to happen and it's disgusting that the home office fought against the compensation payments to the victims. I hope these men can move on with their lives but this should be taken investigated at the highest level to find out why nothing was done to stop this abuse. These victims must receive an apology.




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Gauss
17 April 2012 4:58AM




That was a response to HC Collider. Apologies for ambiguity.




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Gauss
17 April 2012 4:55AM




You criticise the prison governors at the time, but you seem unaware that some of them are now running the prison service. The same prison service that is trying to cover this up. Things are undoubtedly better than they were, but some of the enablers are still in their jobs, and some of them have not yet given convincing accounts of the reasons for their actions in protecting Husband.

I think you're being intensely naive if you think this can all safely be assigned to 'the past'. Some of your bosses still have a case to answer about the extent of their complicity in this abuse. If I was you, I'd be using my professional connections to demand that they provide answers. If you choose not to, on your conscience be it.




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gratifymenow
17 April 2012 1:22AM




HC Collider 1 makes a lot of points and it would take a long time to deal with them all. Suffice to say that every story has two sides. He was a governor in a prison and says that " anyone who has worked in a prison (and I happen to have Governed one) would know that handing control to prisoners in ANY way shape or form is simply putting everyone in danger, staff and prisoners alike. " As someone who spent half his adult life (for one charge) in every type of prison except the Youth System, from Category A all the way to Category D I have to disagree with his assertion that a tacit allowance of violence (whether Physical or sexual) is ignored nor was in the time that Husband carried out his reign of terror on defenceless young boys. This is the reason why those who were the victims of his crimes want an apology from the system and not from Husband who has unfortunately died and cannot be punished for his crimes. Those who allowed him to carry on his criminal behaviour were just as guilty as him if not more so. He may well have been compelled by his unnatural urges to commit sadistic sexual offences against young boys but those who were aware and covered up for him had no such psychological problems. They were merely doing their jobs as they saw fit. There is a level of dominant ideology socialization in every institution and it takes a big man to see what is wrong ethically, morally and legally and stand up and raise his/her voice against it. That no such person came forward does not mean that nobody knew it was going on. From the evidence of the victims in this case it was obvious that a sick pervert was allowed not just tacitly but overtly to commit hideous acts of sexual torture against these boys.
The obvious question to ask is Why? Mr HC Collider1 is asking us to believe that this is hysteria prompted by an over imaginative view of a closed world through fictional contact. I had no such luck unfortunately. I know exactly what goes on in these places. I know prisoners who were raped by other prisoners and the rapists were allowed to carry on raping other young boys and in fact prison officers would put young boys in cells with these rapists knowing full well what was going to happen. There were a couple of notorious prisoners during the 80's and 90's who were allowed to do this. One of them was an ex- heavy weight boxer and he just used to go out on the landing and punch the first boy he liked and drag him back to his cell. Anybody who has been in the dispersal system will know immediately who I am talking about and if this was common knowledge throughout the system then the official method of gathering information must be seriously flawed. Just to be equal in this I remember a notorious priest in HMP Wellingborough in the late 90's who was eventually moved on because he was making pornographic films of his abuse of vulnerable prisoners in the prison chapel.
Mr HC Collider1 on the one hand says that it is ridiculous and hysterical to believe that this was allowed to happen in a prison whilst at the same time conceding that it did happen and some form of apology should be given to the victim!
Prisons are not nice places to work in but they are even nastier places to live in. Yes they do inherit problems but they do not make the problems any better - they get a bad situation and make it worse. I would give credit where it is due but the prison officers and Governors who treated me like a human being were few and far between but thank god they did exist because it would have been a bleak and solitary wasteland if everyone in authority was totally against me all the time. I don't know how survivor survived and just contemplating his ordeal gives me the goosebumps. I saw a lot of suicides in prison and can't bear to look back at the time I served.
Prison is supposed to be punishment but many of the staff believe that their role is to punish the prisoner rather than administer the imprisonment. This callous disregard for human beings goes a long way in explaining why these things are allowed to occur. You ask for an objective view of a subjective version of events - yours and those who were subjected to the objects...




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Sigmund003
16 April 2012 11:11PM




I have heard a thousand time people say "These things don't happened today and safeguards have been put in place to minimise the risk of it happening again, We have learned lessons from the past and things are different today." I feel that it would be impossible to claim you have learned from the past until you have addressed the issues that were created in the past, These victims were not given any support to help deal with their painful memories, they had to through the two trials of Husband then they had to fight through high courts, appeal courts and the house of lords. A 6 year battle with the very organisation who abused them.

There was no equity of arms, they had the might of the whole legal system baring down on them with all of its power and still these brave men stood resolute and eventually won in the house of lords, I salute these brave men and all those who stand beside them to say we will not take this kind of behaviour from our civil services no matter what rhetorical crap the bilge out to placate those around them.




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survivor2
16 April 2012 10:59PM




Your right i don't mean it that way it is wrong in any prison. what i mean is we were boys. most of us had been through the care system and a lot were abused there. we were then sent to medomsley were we were subjected to the ill conceived idea that we could be brutalised into being good boys through the short sharp shock treatment i had been beaten through out early years just for feeding myself. what the short sharp shock did to me was to make me not trust any adult again it took away the boy in me. it also stopped me from complaining in case i got worse if that it possible to imagine.




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Comrad
16 April 2012 10:35PM




Im sorry, I just have to say Im devastated after reading that piece. I'm just really upset, angry, and gutted by everything I read




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peeps99
16 April 2012 10:16PM



 Response to EricAllison, 16 April 2012 9:53PM


Thanks for taking the trouble to respond. I do share your anger against those that you rail against for their compliance, don't misunderstand me. But to not be angry with Husband just because he is dead nevertheless strikes me as curious. I'm still angry with that man, just as I'm still angry toward my abuser when I was a child - the sexual assault on me only happened the once, and not on the 'inside' - but just that one occurrence was devastating enough, I remember it as clear as yesterday. I cannot begin to imagine what repeated abuse must be like. But I remain angrier toward the perpetrators. They're the ones which carried out the actions, and blaming the 'system' can feel as though it is mitigating their actions (I'm sure not the intention, but I hope I'm explaining myself clearly).




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EricAllison
16 April 2012 9:53PM




Peeps99 You suggest I am more angry with those who could/should have stopped Husband, than I am with the abuser himself. You are correct, I am; for the simple reason that of Husband is dead, there's no point in being angry with him. Some of those I rail against are still in positions of power, over other human beings.The prison service, for example, is almost in denial, let alone trying to learn from the mistakes which allowed Husband to abuse with impunity for so long. Husband will be a heap of bones by now, or ashes.




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HCollider1
16 April 2012 9:42PM



 Response to survivor2, 16 April 2012 9:31PM


I wasn't making a comment about this particular prison. I was making a point about the service today. I don't rank or grade offenders..I am not keen on the idea that some sorts of offender are better than others. Young offenders or juveniles need a different sort of care, a specialist level of care but your comment suggests (although I don't think you mean it like that) that it would have been ok for abuse to happen as long as the offenders were 'hard core'. I think that's highly undesirable. Its just not ok for there to be disorder. It breaks the point of having the thing there at all.

I happen to agree that if you don't want to make a difference you shouldn't be in the PS and everyone can influence the culture of a prison, from PSOs to the Governor. However its the management of a Prison that sets the tone and I think in this case some very hard and unpleasant questions would need to be asked of those in the senior ranks at this particular prison. And that's why I think an apology should be given because this level of actvity is simply not possible without something going wrong.

I am not sure at all service levels it is a vocation but it is a job you can do with high standards and a moral base.

It is a different service now from the time this was done I think people thinking nothing has changed are making a mistake. The opening article is obviously written with a viewpoint that the whole PS is sick but then that sells papers and the truth is a lot more complex. The PS culture is different.

Too much is asked of prisons..they just can't fix everything. What people can and should expect however is that people within them don't break the law. And that's why I'd advocate an apology as what was done and allowed to be done was wrong.




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peeps99
16 April 2012 9:34PM



 Response to survivor2, 16 April 2012 9:13PM


There is nothing you could have done to have stopped him. Others meanwhile could have stopped him as they knew what was going on. I make no more excuse for their inaction than I do for Husband's actions. I hope that was clear from my previous postings, I think it was but I don't want to give the impression of being an apologist for those who chose to do nothing when they could have, which wasn't my intention.

I do agree Husband was a sick perverted man, and I can see what you mean when you say he couldn't stop himself, but he should have been able to control himself, there is no excuse for what he did to you and others.




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survivor2
16 April 2012 9:31PM



 Response to HCollider1, 16 April 2012 9:10PM


you talk about it as if this was prison for hard core prisoners it wasn't it was for boys. and as for right or wrong if you are in a position of trust and care you should be seen to do the right thing. anything less is morally and professionally wrong. i know it is hard working in the ps but it is your choice or is it just a job to you that you want to get through the working day without rocking the boat if it is just a job you need to find some thing more suited to your apathetic out look. if it is a vocation to you you should do your job correctly morally and professionally.




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survivor2
16 April 2012 9:13PM



 Response to peeps99, 16 April 2012 8:26PM


as a survivor of medomsley the one thing i keep going over and over in my head is what more could i have done to stop him. the people that were there to protect us did nothing knowing exactly what he was doing they had the power but instead chose to destroy the evidence. Husband was a sick perverted man who got his kick out of strangling us until we lost conciousness he could never stop himself. but those officers that let him continue with his depravity were not sick and i am sure some of them were fathers.




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HCollider1
16 April 2012 9:10PM




I think the suggestion that staff 'allow' rape is as ridiculous as it is scandalous..anyone who has worked in a prison (and I happen to have Governed one) would know that handing control to prisoners in ANY way shape or form is simply putting everyone in danger, staff and prisoners alike. To post that simply shows the abject ignorance often displayed about prisons and its rather sad to see on a site where one might hope for a bit more elevated level of debate (one which most prisoners won't be having as their opportunities on the out weren't as nice and well founded as yours).

Offences are offences and anyone who condones one is just an offender, wearing a uniform or not.

These sort of accusations are the sort of hysteria that comes from watching too much TV I am afraid. Yes there are awful Prison Officers and any system attracts them (and I worked in a terrible prison where staff were intimidated and bullied by others) ask anyone who stands up to it if they were assaulted more in prison by staff or prisoners. I suspect I know the answer.

I don't have sympathy with the view that the perpetrator of these crimes deserves no anger or indeed blame and that the Prison Service is somehow to blame entirely..I am afraid that offenders on the inside are as much to blame for their actions as offenders on the outside and while there are contributing factors each person is accountable for their own behaviour. Indeed one of our errors as a society is that everything is an excuse, whereas its usually just a reason.

I do think some sort of apology could be made in this case however as it is plain this man could have been stopped and there were systemic and cultural failings and anyone who has worked in prison knows that a 'sick' prison allows disorder, violence and abuse. Saying sorry if important to the victims is worth doing though it actually doesn't change anything in reality..only enforcement of standards and creating a 'healthy' culture does that.

The changes that haven taken place in the PS since this time are actually profound. In fact they are so many and so wide ranging that I should think the people who want the PS to be like a cross between Prisoner Cell Block H, the Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption would be really disappointed. Afrter all its nicer to think all bad people are made by 'nasty' prison staff than to have a hard look at the outside world isn't it. Sorry to shatter your illusions but prisons are inheriting a problem, not creating one.

Instead of passing the blame onto instiutions for failings take a hard look at the society you have contributed to and ask yourself if you are doing rather more than just posting outrage on a website in trying to address it. If the answer is yes well maybe your view is actually worth expressing. If not, sit back and watch the show..like all the other people who want their drains cleaned without getting their hands dirty. I do find it astonishing that people rail against the system but actually have little objective experience of it. When something goes right well god forbid we should say so.

An apology should be offered and, at the same time, blame put in the right place. Don&#


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