Police would have interviewed a doctor accused of the “horrific” abuse of children had he been alive today, a report has found.
Child patients sent to Aston Hall Hospital in Derbyshire between the 1950s and 1970s have claimed they were taken to a secluded room, drugged and sexually abused by Kenneth Milner. Some were put in straitjackets.
On Wednesday, Derbyshire police said in a report: “There would have been sufficient evidence to justify interviewing Dr Milner under caution in relation to a number of potential offences, namely rape, indecent assault, child cruelty and assault.”
So far 115 people have come forward to speak to the investigation team and police have recorded 65 crimes including physical and sexual abuse. Officers said 65 people are being treated as victims.
Lawyers for 47 patients sent to the hospital in the 1960s and 1970s said the “horrific treatment” had “undoubtedly caused permanent, damaging effects”.
Stephen Edwards, from Bond Turner, said: “We believe that every doctor should have to demonstrate their accountability in treating patients, especially those as vulnerable as children.
“The UK needs to ensure it has the clinical infrastructure to protect the next generation of young people and our efforts are focused on preventing this kind of gross negligence ever occurring again.
“We are committed to seeking the justice and compensation that our clients deserve and hope that today will encourage those who are yet to come forward to speak out.”
A slew of claims were made against Milner, who was medical superintendent of Aston Hall, between 1954 and 1979.
As well as the sexual abuse, there were claims of a patients being hit while trying to resist treatment, one having her head repeatedly forced under water, and one having her hair repeatedly pulled to force her to take medication.
Another said she woke with her hands bound after being drugged and complained to a nurse of soreness between her legs. The nurse slapped her around the head and told her she must have a urine infection.
The vast majority of the allegations were made against Milner, who died in 1976. Other staff members accused of physical abuse have either been eliminated from the inquiry, are also dead or are unable to be identified.
A victim initially came forward to Suffolk Police in June 2011. Her claims that she was forced to receive treatment at Aston Hall were passed to Derbyshire where officers investigated but found no allegations of sexual abuse.
In July 2014, another person made an allegation to Derbyshire police that they were raped at the hospital, but the claim was not pursued because the suspect was dead.
Two months later, police in Nottinghamshire spoke to another individual who alleged they were abused at the hospital, but this was recorded purely for intelligence purposes, again because the suspect was dead.
In July 2015, another woman complained of abusive treatment, referring to being drugged and waking up feeling sore between her legs, mirroring other claims.
The following year, in February 2016, the investigation was formally passed to Derbyshire’s Public Protection Major Investigation Team.
Detective Chief Superintendent Kem Mehmet, from Derbyshire police, said the same level of importance is placed on crimes when a suspect is dead.
He said: “I am satisfied the force gave an appropriate and proportionate response to the first allegation in 2011.
“One of the victims sent a card to the police saying they no longer feel like victims, they feel like warriors.”
The independent chairman of the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board, Chris Atkinson, said one victim’s reaction to the report was “at last I have been heard”.
He said: “It has taken some time for victims to raise (their views) because there hasn’t been the process in place to do that in the past.”
Speaking to television journalists earlier in the day, he said he was “deeply sorry” that anyone had endured this type of abuse.