Jersey 'still at risk' in care system, says damning report

Inquiry reveals seven decades of abuse and neglect at Haut de la Garenne children's home

jersey child abuse home
(Image credit: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

Children may still be at risk in Jersey's care system, according to a damning report revealing the full extent of child abuse on the island over seven decades.

The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, launched in 2014 by Judge Frances Oldham, uncovered 553 cases of abuse by more than 150 offenders between 1947 and 2004. More than half were said to have occurred Haut de la Garenne children's home, dubbed the "house of horrors".

However, Oldham warned that children were still at risk on the island and that "lessons of the past have not been learned".

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Child protection groups said her recommendations, including the appointment of a new commissioner for children and a children's rights officer, together with the creation of an "empowered" inspectorate that would make regular visits to children's homes, should be "implemented without delay".

The report also said Jersey's residency rules could be relaxed "to make finding quality staff easier" and new legislation should be introduced to ensure the island keeps up-to-date with neighbouring countries, says the Daily Telegraph.

A survivor who lived at Haut de la Garenne in the 1950s spoke of being repeatedly hit with metal bars and having meals withheld. He said live electrical wires were applied to children's legs. The report lists many other instances of physical, sexual and psychological abuse.

The island's authorities "proved to be an ineffectual and neglectful substitute parent", said Oldham.

She also recommended the home be demolished, saying it was a reminder of an "unhappy past or shameful history" and of the "turmoil and trauma" of the police investigation, which began in 2006.

While much of the inquiry focused on Haut de la Garenne, revelations of assault, bullying and slavery at the Sacre Coeur Orphanage have led to a "fresh call" for witnesses from the inquiry panel, says the BBC.

Responding to accusations that the Jersey authorities had "swept serious issues under the carpet" and "failed to hold those responsible to account", Senator Ian Gorst, Jersey's chief minister, apologised to "all those who suffered abuse in our islands over the years". He also admitted the island had failed children and said he accepted every recommendation in the report.

"Unpalatable truths were swept under the carpet because it was the easiest thing to do. People cared more for the status quo, for a quiet life, than for children," he said.

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