An investigation will be taking place into the abuse that took place at Medomsley Detention Centre over three decades.
The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) has been commissioned to carry out a special investigation into the abuse between 1961 and 1987.
Eight former members of staff were convicted of offences after former inmates reported being subjected to abuse at the centre, which held boys and young men aged between 17 and 21.
In a statement, the PPO said: "The PPO investigation will look into what the authorities knew about the abuse, what action they took and whether there were opportunities for them to have taken action or intervened.
"We will not re-investigate the facts of the abuse or re-investigate individual incidents."
The PPO is in the process of putting together a dedicated investigation team.
Ombudsman Adrian Usher said: “This is an important investigation to understand how this large-scale abuse was able to take place. We need to find out what the authorities knew and whether there were opportunities for them to have taken action at the time."
The special investigation has been announced 18 months after the end of Durham Police's Operation Seabrook, which led to several criminal convictions.
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