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The abuse started on his first night at the hospital, after he tried to hug his mother goodbye as she left.“The next thing I remember was being dragged by three men into what looked like a police cell…and I was then having a needle shoved inside me to be put to sleep,” he said. The problem was the things they’d sedate you for - if you were talking to another one of the children and a member of staff couldn’t quite hear what you said, that was enough for them to be ‘concerned’ enough that you’d need sedating.” Alan said attempts to talk about the abuse with other children was met with “serious consequences” and that staff brutally enforced strict rules about what could be discussed, arguing that patients could be distressed or planning an escape.The medication he was given does not appear on any records given to GPs and police have told Alan and other victims the hospital’s own documents were destroyed in an arson attack at an undisclosed off-site facility.

Hertfordshire Constabulary said it was investigating an undisclosed number of reports of physical and sexual assaults at Hill End Hospital Adolescent Unit.

“They got his heart restarted and just dumped him back into bed,” Alan said.

“There was probably never any record whatsoever.” As well as the sedation and physical abuse that accompanied it, survivors have reported being raped and sexually abused by hospital staff – frequently while being sedated or during strip searches.

“It was the last option for us – we were all children, 11 and 12-year-olds.” The fate of those children is now the subject of a police investigation spanning almost 30 years, from 1969 to when the Hill End Hospital Adolescent Unit closed in 1995. Detectives are appealing for former patients to come forward as they probe allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

Alan says his own horrific experience is just one of “thousands” of similar accounts from survivors who have found each other online and had some of their cases taken on by a high-profile legal firm.

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