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Child abuse investigation could have started four years earlier says former Deputy Police Chief

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A former Deputy Chief Officer of Jersey's police force says officers could have begun their investigation into claims of child abuse at Haut de la Garenne four years earlier than they did.

Lenny Harper is giving evidence to the inquiry into historical child abuse.

Today the inquiry heard Operation Rectangle was originally set up to investigate historical allegations of abuse in Jersey's Sea Cadets. That happened over a period of years and the team had - at one point - worked with the FBI as part of a global effort to find abusers. Today, Mr Harper explained that line of inquiry hit a stumbling block in 2006.

Mr Harper said: "Not long after 1 October 2006, because of the very nature of the Sea Cadets inquiries, we had a limited number of suspects, and the last two or three suspects included one where the victim didn't want to take any further action."

The inquiry heard claims about abuse at Haut de la Garenne were flagged up by an alleged victim to a police officer in 2003, but wasn't fully investigated.

I think an investigation into Haut de la Garenne should have been launched a lot earlier and I wasn't the only one who shared that view. If my memory serves me right one officer actually left the States of Jersey Police because of his dissatisfaction with the way allegations of abuse of children were being dealt with. In my view it should have been launched in 2003.

– Lenny Harper, former Deputy Chief Officer of Jersey's police

He went on to say: "Senior officers were ignoring requests for an investigation. There was a decision not to follow up. The request was ignored. There's no way around it. Even inertia, whether it was too difficult, whether indeed it was malicious, it was still ignored and it was wrong."

Lenny Harper because the senior investigating officer into allegations about abuse at Haut de la Garenne in early 2008.

When asked if he was the right person to be in charge, he said: "Yes. I think I was able to engender the trust of victims who had mistrust in not only the police but in all of the caring agencies in Jersey. I had the experience and determination to see it through. I wasn't able to be intimidated in perhaps the same way as a Jersey-born and bred officer and I think the combination of those circumstances made me the right person for the job."

His evidence to the inquiry continues.

Jersey Police say they have no comment to make while the inquiry continues.

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