FIVE suspects have been identified as part of an investigation into historical abuse at a remand centre.

Greater Manchester Police have received 35 complaints about both sexual and physical abuse at Woodend Assessment Centre in Atherton between the 1970s and 1990s.

The centre was used to house children from across the North West who were sent there by councils and criminal courts to be assessed.

Of the 35 complaints received as part of Operation Milan, nine have been investigated previously and in all cases there was deemed to be insufficient evidence to investigate further.

Nine investigations are still live and in five cases the police have been unable to identify the victims.

Twelve of the complainants felt unable to co-operate with the criminal justice system.

Det Chief Supt Russ Jackson, head of the serious crime division, said: “This doesn’t mean they are not making a complaint. These are very difficult circumstances and they don’t feel able to go through the difficult criminal justice proceedings."

Two of the five suspects identified in relation to the investigation in Woodend have been interviewed under caution and the police enquiries are ongoing.

Operation Milan has been merged with other GMP investigations into historic abuse including at Knowl View Residential School in Rochdale and Rose Hill and Broome House care homes in Manchester.

Donna Hall, Wigan Council chief executive, said: “Woodend Assessment Centre in Atherton closed in 1994, having first opened in the 1960s.

“It was a regional centre used by many North West councils and criminal courts to home children who were being assessed. The children tended to stay for relatively short periods of time.

“There have been three previous police investigations following allegations of abuse at Woodend. We recognise this is a very difficult period for those involved and will continue to help the police with their investigations.”