It seems like a lifetime ago now, and it certainly feels that way sometimes – that a system existed in this country which dealt with wayward teenagers in a manner that seems almost unbelievable to the wider population.

The Borstals, the ‘Short, Sharp Shock’ of the Detention Centre’s, the ‘Assessment’ Centre’s, the Home Office ‘Approved Schools’ and some of the now notorious ‘Care Homes’, were the places in which thousands of boys found themselves incarcerated during the late 1960s, through the 1970s and halfway through the 1980s.

Many of these lads, some as young as 9, were hauled before the juvenile and magistrates courts for things that would these days incur a simple caution, a small fine or a community order, and were thrown into the types of places where brutality, physical and mental abuse and what can only be described as ‘torture’ were a daily occurrence – and rape and sexual abuse were endemic across the entire system.

You can read through the testimonies of some of the lads who were sent to the Ty Mawr Approved School nr Abergavenny in South Wales during those times here.

And now, mainly due to a small number of activists and the tenacity and brave actions of groups of survivors of institutions like the Medomsley Detention Centre, who for decades never gave up fighting for recognition and justice, that the mainstream media by way of the Press Association, have finally acknowledged what happened to boys like us ….

Torture ‘systematic’ in youth detention centres in 1970s and 1980s says lawyer….

The Press Association

The way some teenage detention centre inmates were treated in the 1970s and 1980s could be officially classed as torture, a leading child abuse lawyer has said.

David Greenwood, who has acted for victims of the Rotherham abuse scandal, is calling for a public inquiry into what went on behind bars in institutions across the country up to 40 years ago.

He said the UK signed up to the UN Convention Against Torture in 1984, but young inmates were subjected to cruel, degrading punishments even after that point.

Often the crimes they committed would these days warrant a community punishment.

Seven former prison guards at a detention centre (Medomsley) in northern England are currently being prosecuted following allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

And Mr Greenwood has worked with other claimants who were locked up at different institutions who allege they were tortured.

The solicitor said: “These young men were a forgotten segment of society and people viewed them as worthless.

“It was torture and in any prison, in any battlefield, it would not be tolerated, yet it was systematic in our detention centres in the 1970s and ’80s.”

Mr Greenwood, a director of Switalskis Solicitors, said: “These boys were locked up, they could not run away but were subjected to what I would describe as torture from prison officers.

“I submitted a complaint to the UN concerning this and the UK’s lack of adherence to the convention in this regard. I am still waiting to hear from the UN officials in charge of monitoring.”

Mr Greenwood said ex-detainees have told him they were routinely punched by staff.

He said: “The use of stress positions was universally applied, having to bunny hop in a fully crouched position from one place to another without using arms to steady yourself was usual.”

Home secretary Willie Whitelaw’s Short Sharp Shock initiative, where inmates were given a burst of Army-type discipline was taken too far by some officers, Mr Greenwood said.

Leading criminologist Professor David Wilson was governor of a more progressive young offenders’ institution in the 1980s.

He said detention centres were run to deliberately put inmates under psychological and physical stress.

“That line between putting someone under stress and simply brutalising them seemed to never be clearly enough drawn,” he said.

“The Short Sharp Shock was clearly going to be interpreted by some members of staff in ways that would lead to abuse.”

Inmates at Eastwood Park Detention Centre in Gloucestershire have told Mr Greenwood they were punched if they did not answer officer’s responses with “Sir”.

The lawyer added: “They would be regularly punched for the slightest misdemeanour and were also whipped with a length of rubber pipe.”

A poem written by an ex-Eastwood Park inmate refers to being made to stay in a sitting position but without being allowed to use a chair.

Cleveland Police have been investigating historic allegations about Kirklevington Detention Centre near Yarm.

So far more than 400 complainants have come forward, the force said.

Mr Greenwood, who represents around 50 of them, said: “The same type of abuse is complained of – punches for no reason, stress positions, cold showers, prolonged physical exercise.

“I have received similar reports of similar extreme physical abuse from staff at Thorpe Arch Grange in Yorkshire dating back to the 1980s.”

He said these men, now in their 50s, deserve compensation and answers.

“I am working with a group of the men to call for a full public inquiry into the treatment of our young people by prison staff in the 1970s and 1980s,” he said.

“I hope to influence the Home Secretary to order an inquiry.”

A Prisons Service spokesman said: “There is already an inquiry looking into these allegations, which is part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.”

He said it would be inappropriate to comment on allegations of abuse at a specific detention centre which were subject to an ongoing police investigation.



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  1. Great awareness piece, I’ve worked with a few lads from Medomsley and similar institutions and have bared witness to the attrocities they have been through, I wish the lads all the best with the fight and hope they get all the recognition and justice that’s long overdue.

  2. How strange.
    Reading the above got me thinking about mates from my biker days that did a spell at Haslar, so I thought I’d find out if the place is still in business. It seems to have been expunged from history. The only things of any substance on the web were the intro from a documentary about ‘the short, sharp shock’ and a few photos of the place.

    Now why would that be?

    (Incidentally, the lads came back fighting fit and as hard as nails!)

    1. Maybe somebody who was there can give me some information on the place Phil.

      I doubt very much if it still operates as a Detention Centre as they did away with them in the 1980s thankfully, but the buildings and grounds may still be there …. perhaps re-purposed as something else entirely.

  3. 100s of boys tortured at Detention Centres during Thatcher’s tenure


  4. The baldyman is back online. Another astonishing article which is 95% about how his special site costs 300 quid a month and then the last few lines about Megan Markle not existing…..amazing stuff indeed….
    Please all donate or we are doomed.

    1. I did say we haven’t seen the last of him.

    2. I know this is only a coincidence but his site and both his and FDS’s Facespook pages have all come back to life at much the same time.
      Just sayin’…

      1. That’s what you think. Just sayin’

        Spivs probably had a nice little Christmas on the donations & had come back refreshed with more facial comparisons from Mars and a compendium of people who don’t actually exist.

        Not sure if he shares that App with his gang mates, only some bloke called Alun on Twitter has been false reported to his local police as being a possible match for an efit of some bloke who may have been involved in a child abduction 30 odd years ago.

        The manic desperation to get people falsely arrested by this gang continues.

  5. Jimmy, off topic. Have you followed any of the ‘Trump assassination attempt?

    I ask because I am sure I see the cardinal doing the trigger finger here….?


    Watch the cardinal from 14.50

    1. I just watched the clip and you are right Jen.

      It was not immediately obvious, and very brief but it’s a definite ‘trigger’ gesture I agree.

      Good spot.

    2. I agree jen, very good catch. Probably just an innocent gesture, but I think it is unusual. Any lip readers here? I’d love to know what he’s saying as he makes the gesture.

  6. This cold weather has me wrapped up in ‘conspiracy ‘ this weekend

    From the Vegas shootings to QAnon to Tyler the A.I. who may or may not be biocomputing – or may even be Q and is self writing as well as self written, onto the blockchain AI language/human currency conspiracy surrounding Sophia the Saudi robot with citizenship

    Who needs box sets?!

    It’s got wonderland, snow white and the seven dwarves, not forgetting OZ, rocket man and superman included in all this, I am absolutely spoilt for choice.

    Truth is, we do need a super hero to clean up this mess.

  7. HEK-293….what is it?


  8. Carl Panzram exposed it all, and through his own life the most extreme of the potential consequences as well, in the 1920’s.


    Largely unheeded, of course.

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