Abuse victims closer to Committee of Inquiry
Closer to another whitewash more like!
People who were abused while in care in Jersey are one step closer to a Committee of Inquiry, which will allow their voices to be heard.
Jersey's politicians are hearing recommendations as to the scope of such an Inquiry from a UK government advisor.
Andrew Williamson's report follows on from the Verita Report in November 2011.
But the Jersey Care Leavers' Association is rejecting Williamson's recommendations, and says the Verita Report should be used as a starting point for a Committee of Inquiry. That report has since been shelved by the States.
Mr Williamson said: "One of the most significant developments since the publication of the Verita Report in 2011 has been the implementation of the Historic Abuse Redress Scheme in March 2012.
"The scheme is designed to deal with applications for compensation for sexual or unlawful physical abuse suffered by individuals between May 1945 and the 31st December 1994 when in the States of Jersey full time residential care.
"This programme was launched with a full apology by the States of Jersey to all those who had been abused and significant efforts have been made to publicise the Redress Scheme to ensure that all those who are entitled to claim for compensation do so within the 6 month timescale which concludes on the 30th September 2012."
He said: "Given the significant investment in the Children's Service and the Redress Scheme currently in operation, a number of the original concerns have been or are being addressed. Nevertheless from the interviews I have undertaken and the information I have received there remains a strongly held view that there must be an independent enquiry to examine whether the Children's Services for a long period of time challenged or examined the quality of the services provided and the overall standards of care.
"If this didn't happen, was it a deliberate act and was there a conspiracy within the senior management and political representatives to ignore or deny the issues?"
Andrew Williamson is making three recommendations to the States of Jersey:
1. To convene an independent Committee of Inquiry to look at the decisions taken by both political and senior management of the Children's Services in Jersey during the period 1960 to 1994 with particular reference to the standards of care provided to children in the care system.
2. To commission a review of the decisions taken whether or not to prosecute individuals identified during the police enquiry concerning the various allegations that culminated in the enquiry into Haut la Garenne. This can be undertaken by a lawyer, not resident in Jersey, and should be a review of the legal evidence available at that time.
3. Following the closure of the Redress Scheme in May 2013 the States of Jersey may wish to consider commissioning a Truth and Reconciliation Service to assist those individuals who made claims to talk about their experiences and receive support on a confidential basis. This would also enable those people who claim they have suffered abuse whilst in residential care but do not feel able to give evidence to a full public enquiry to talk about their experiences on a confidential basis.