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Final week of Jersey's long-running Care Inquiry

The final week of Jersey's long-running Care Inquiry begins today.

There is just a few days left for interested parties to make final submissions, before the final report is prepared and published.

So far around 600 witnesses have given evidence to the independent investigation into historical child abuse.

Jersey Police, The States of Jersey and the Jersey Care Leaver's Association are all set to give evidence this week.

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Gradwell: 'Divisive splits' and 'bullying culture' in police force during abuse inquiry

Mick Gradwell

The police officer who took over Jersey's child abuse investigation in late 2008 has spoken of the culture of bullying and mistrust he found when he joined the force.

Mick Gradwell is today summing up evidence to the inquiry into historical abuse in the island.

Officers complained to me about the bullying culture in SOJP [States of Jersey Police]. Thousands of children's files had not been reviewed.

The working relationship between the lawyers and SOJP didn't meet the standards of the time. There was a public narrative that there was an active conspiracy to cover up child abuse.

– Mick Gradwell

He told the inquiry that Operation Rectangle was not run to the standards of the time that the UK's 43 police force followed, and that the senior investigating officer prior to his arrival, Lenny Harper, was not qualified to lead such a serious situation.

He said Mr Harper perpetuated an impression of mistrust in prosecutors.

Mr Gradwell said of Mr Harper:

The States of Jersey Police media narrative reinforced this view of mistrust. Instead, better attempts should have been made to rectify this view. There were divisive splits within the police, and between the police and other agencies.

– Mick Gradwell

He also criticised a BBC journalist who asked Mr Gradwell for an interview prior to him starting in the job in September 2008.

He said it was apparent the journalist was in possession of leaked information from the investigation, and that he didn't report impartially the information he was subsequently provided with.

Mr Gradwell said: "He interfered with my ability to properly investigate during this inquiry."

He also made reference to the way the investigation into what were presented as remains of children were announced to the public earlier that year by police in February 2008.

He said: "Evidence presented as partial remains of a child, not potential partial remains of a child. What was thought to be a piece of a child's skull should not have been presented in this exaggerated manner."

He said the totality of irregularities he found in the overall inquiry were not within the expected standards.

Jersey 'ahead of the world' in responding to abuse survivors

Credit: PA

The advocate representing the States of Jersey has told the inquiry investigating historical child abuse in the care system that the response to the issue in recent years "stands ahead of other jurisdictions".

Advocate Beverley Lacey is today giving the government's closing submissions to the inquiry before it writes its final report.

Jersey is neither unique nor alone in confronting these issues and in trying to work out how best to protect and do the best for our children.

A number of inquiries are now underway around the world. This does not make the historic failings in Jersey more excusable or any lessons that need to be learned less important.

There are challenges and anomalies peculiar to Jersey as an island and relatively small community. Currently, one could say that Jersey stands ahead of other jurisdictions in its responses to survivors' accounts.

– Advocate Beverley Lacey

On behalf of the government, she outlined the number of police investigations into abuse in recent years, the official apology made by the Chief Minister in 2010, and the financial compensation scheme for those who were abused in States residential care.

The inquiry today also heard that in the past 18 months, Children's Services has reviewed its caseload and the way it works.

It means the number of current "looked after" children and children on the protection register has increased.

Related court cases now account for 20% of all the work dealt with by the island's Royal Court.

Advocate Lacey also reiterated to the inquiry that:

The States of Jersey are not waiting for the inquiry's recommendations. They know there are improvements and changes required and are focused on, and working to, resolve them.

– Advocate Beverley Lacey

Fresh Apology to Abuse Victims

Credit: PA

Lawyers representing the States of Jersey have today issued a fresh apology to victims of historical child abuse in the island.

Today, the inquiry into wrongdoing within the care system has heard closing submissions from the government.

Advocate Beverley Lacey, representing the States, said: "The Chief Minister apologised to victims in 2010. It acknowledged failings on behalf of the States of Jersey and that horrendous abuse had previously taken place. It was equally heartfelt then as it is now."

She went on to characterise evidence from abuse victims as "nightmare accounts of children who have been groomed and subjected to sexual abuse by individuals in positions of trust."

The inquiry today also heard about changes and improvements that have been made to the care system, in advance of the inquiry reporting its findings and conclusions.

Under the banner of Preventative Services, an extra £5.5million is to be spent this year, and on a recurring basis in future years on:

  • 20 new social workers
  • 29 additional residential childcare officers
  • 4 new family support workers
  • 5 new post in the CAMHS service
  • Additional funding for fostering and for individual packages of care for specific children.

In summing up the States submission, Advocate Lacey said:

The States of Jersey wishes to extend its gratitude to the survivors of abuse for their bravery in coming forward to the inquiry to give their accounts and who have contributed to the important work of the inquiry.

– Advocate Lacey
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