Thursday 11th July 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

NYP Officers Investigated re Child Abuse (Pt.3)

June 4, 2024 Police

NYP Officers Investigated re Child Abuse (Pt.3)




The NYE has run two articles on Operation Magnolia, which is the Cleveland Police investigation into allegations that boys between the ages of 12 and 17 were physically, sexually and emotionally abused by Prison Officers and members of the teaching staff at Kirklevington Detention Centre (KDC) in North Yorkshire between the 1960s and its closure in 1992:

So far, over 700 victims have come forward. It is also alleged that officers from the North Yorkshire (NYP) West Yorkshire, Durham, Cleveland, Lancashire and Northumbria Police Forces witnessed detainees being beaten by Prison Officers in the reception centre when they handed detainees over from Police custody to the Prison Servic – but failed to protect the boys by arresting the Prison Officers or reporting the abuse.

In the above articles, I have linked the allegations of NYP Officers failing to arrest abusers at KDC to similar historical allegations of NYP Officers ignoring child abuse at Throxenby Hall Residential School, NYP Custody Suites and in connection with the Jimmy Savile/Peter Jaconelli pedophile ring in Scarborough and Whitby. I also identified that the same Officers who covered up abuse at KDC may also have had knowledge of these other abuse scandals and been involved in those cover-ups.

Operation Magnolia: An Assessment

Operation Magnolia has been ongoing since April 2014. Despite the industrial level of the abuse that was taking place openly, that there were Police and Prison Service witnesses, that it has taken hundreds of statements and identified multiple suspects, involves a large team of detectives led by a highly experienced Detective Chief Inspector with an impressive reputation for solving complex crimes. (DCI Sarah Robinson Cleveland Police’s Organised Crime, Economic and Cyber Crime Unit). No-one has been charged with anything, let alone convicted.

The victims I am in touch with express complete lack of confidence in the investigation.

Approximately seventeen men who worked at KDC have been arrested or interviewed under caution. However, sixteen Police Officers accused of assisting them by failing to report abuse have only been spoken to, not arrested and then interviewed under caution in the normal way. Clearly a worrying double standard that detracts from the credibility of the investigation.

There is no statement on the Force website concerning Operation Magnolia. The current situation appears to be that Cleveland Police has thrown a blanket of secrecy over the investigation. Given that it covers grave allegations of corruption by Officers from Cleveland Police, this must be a cause for concern.

The media exists to hold public bodies to account. Under these circumstances, it is entirely reasonable for a North Yorkshire media outlet to ask for a media statement on such a high-profile North Yorkshire based investigation involving allegations of corruption by NYP Officers from Scarborough and Whitby Police Stations, amongst others. And Cleveland Police has a duty to issue one. Yet when I asked for a media statement it refused to provide one, on the basis that I do not comply with its media polic – the same pretext used by NYP to withhold information from the public on issues it does not want to discuss by refusing to comment to the NYE.

When asked how Cleveland Police had identified that I did not comply with its media policy, the Corporate Communications Department ignored the question and did not respond to my enquiry. The implication of this is that either (a) Cleveland Police proscribed me without knowing if I complied with its policy or not, or (b) it made enquiries with NYP who confirmed this. Either option is a cause for concern. Cleveland Police should not be looking for a pretext to avoid media scrutiny on the failure of a major investigation into Police corruption. Nor should it be working with NYP – the force it is supposed to be investigating – to investigate a journalist that is asking questions it does not want to answer, so it can suppress legitimate media scrutiny of an investigation into corruption in NYP.

In historical and cold case investigations, media coverage is vital to generating new evidence and witnesses. So, you would think that an Officer of DCI Robinson’s experience and ability would jump at the opportunity of obtaining media coverage that may encourage more witnesses to come forward and help progress the case. Instead, Cleveland Police is actively discouraging media coverage.

In summary, the conclusion is inescapable that Operation Magnolia has failed. No explanation provided for this failure and then the entire affair has been concealed in official secrecy. The impression given is that Police and Prison Officers have been given immunity from investigation.

It is yet another example of a failed investigation into child abuse in North Yorkshire, following the failed investigations into Ampleforth College (report here), Throxenby Hall and the Savile/Jaconelli ring in Scarborough (NYE investigation here), and the refusal by NYP Chief Constables Winward and then Tim Forber to investigate/comment on allegations that detainees in NYP Custody Suites have been sexually abused on multiple occasions for many years by NYP Officers.

The Ampleforth College Cover-Up

The above report on NYPs bungled Ampleforth College investigation quotes the then NYP Chief Constable Lisa Winward promising an investigation into the failure of her force to obtain a conviction:

“In relation to the allegation that witnesses were misled when they were advised that they were no longer required to attend court, we have launched an internal investigation to establish who spoke to the witnesses regarding their statements.

Our investigation will look at the timeline of the court proceedings and what was said, in order to establish whether they had been intentionally misled as the newspaper has reported.”

Fine sounding words but, typically, this FOI Response by NYP confirms that nothing more was released to the public and NYP will not comment on the results of the investigation. In short, it has been buried in a shroud of official secrecy. Exactly the same as NYP did with the Throxenby Hall, the Savile/Jaconelli Scarborough paedophile ring, KDC and the abuse of women in NYP custody suites.

Consequently, it is not clear why the Ampleforth College prosecution failed, if any disciplinary action has been taken against the Police Officers responsible for the failure, or – most importantly of all – if corrective action has been taken to prevent another failure of this magnitude. It is also unclear if the Ampleforth College investigation was run out of North Allerton, Scarborough or Fulford Road (York) Police Stations, or if specialist Officers trained in child abuse investigations were employed on it. It is not even clear if an investigation did in fact take place.

The victims and the public deserve better than this.

The NYE follows up

I have written to Chief Constable Mark Webster (pictured above) of Cleveland Police asking that Operation Magnolia is extended to investigate misconduct by NYP Officers at Throxenby Hall Residential School, in the NYP Custody Suites and in connection with the Jimmy Savile/Peter Jaconelli pedophile ring in Scarborough and Whitby.

I have also asked that he overrules his Force Corporate Communications Department and orders that a full media statement is issued. I have asked this on the basis that there is enormous public interest in North Yorkshire in these historical investigations and in the modern era of open policing, the public have a right to be kept informed about major investigations, and how their money is spent.

The normal local media contacts of Cleveland Police are in Cleveland, not North Yorkshire. Local media coverage by the NYE in North Yorkshire can encourage witnesses to come forward and help progress the investigation. So, you would think that Chief Constable Webster would welcome media coverage of the investigation. Particularly as the majority of victims probably came from North Yorkshire and some KDC victims read the NYE. We shall see.

I will report back on Chief Constable Webster’s response in due course. Assuming of course that I get one.

NYE Appeal for Information

If you have had a bad experience in NYP custody, at Throxenby Hall, or at Kirklevington Detention Centre, please let the NYE know in complete confidence using the email address. I would particularly like to hear from anyone who knew Martin Mennell, who drowned in the Throxenby Hall swimming pool.

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