An independent inquiry into child abuse in the Jersey care system has found that children may still be at risk.
The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry published the result of its three year inquiry this afternoon.
The damming report found that for decades children in care had been failed at all levels, enduring systematic and cruel abuse as their concerns and testimony was largely ignored and among its disturbing conclusions, warned that children in care on the island are still at risk today.
It found that the government was more interested in protecting its own and the island’s reputation than the welfare of children who suffered sexual and physical abuse, including beatings and being locked in solitary confinement in small spaces. One witness spoke of live electrical wires used to abuse children.
Children could still be at risk as the inquiry found that politicians have not got to grips with systems that does not do enough to protect children.
“Social connections” of those at fault were more of a concern then the protection of victims.
A prison-like regime was found in one care home inspected just last year.
The inquiry led by judge Frances Oldham QC, heard from hundreds of witnesses, many giving horrific evidence, which it concluded had left abuse survivors with “devastating and life-long consequences.”
The inquiry heard that children in care on the island endured 553 offences took place between 1947 and 2004. It covered cases of emotional cruelty and neglect at care homes and foster care, with most of the offences occurring at the notorious Haut de la Garenne children’s home, where a cruel regime of neglect, physical, emotional and sexual abuse was described. The notorious home (pictured above) should be demolished, recommended the inquiry.
Alan Collins the victims’s lawyer responded: “it is truly shocking to think that so much could have been prevented if there had been good government and good management.”
The report detailed how for generations, children ended up in care homes for seemingly arbitrary reasons, and once in care found it difficult to leave. Many children arrived from local authorities in mainland Britain, and records of who came into the Jersey system and who came out again are sketchy.
According to the report there were cases when the justification for removal of a child from their family and placement in a care institution was that the child had “behaviour problems”, such as being involved in “petty pilfering”, or was said to be “rude and cheeky”. “Such a draconian intervention paid no regard to the rights and needs of the child,” concluded the inquiry.
Operation Rectangle, a five-year police investigation into care homes and youth organisations on the island identified 192 potential victims and 151 named suspects.
Only eight were ever charged and only seven convicted on the island amid allegations of cover-up from survivors of the abuse and those in charge of the original police investigation.