A long-running inquiry into child abuse within Jersey’s care system has blasted the British dependency as ‘an ineffectual and neglectful substitute parent’.
The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, which was set up to investigate the abuse of children in the island's care system since 1945, found the States of Jersey had failed to fulfil their corporate parenting responsibilities.
It also warned some children in care 'may still be at risk'.
The inquiry heard from 450 people who had lived in the care system, or were otherwise connected to it, and concluded they were still suffering from the effects of ‘abusive or emotionally neglectful childhoods’ in the system.
One of the care homes cited by the inquiry -- Haut de la Garenne – was described as a reminder of ‘an unhappy past or shameful history for many people.’
This home was described by the inquiry report as ‘a symbol of the turmoil and trauma’ of Operation Rectangle, a major inquiry into child abuse held between 2007 and 2010, and it was recommended the buildings be demolished.
The report concluded the island authorities had failed to establish a culture of transparency and had not done enough to mitigate the negative effects of a ‘small island culture’. This had led to the perception of collusion and cover-up.
The report also said Jersey’s legislative framework was ‘decades’ behind the developed world and did not prioritise the welfare of children in need or at risk.
Responding to the report, Jersey's chief minister Ian Gorst said: 'I would like to start by saying I’m sorry to all those who suffered abuse in our Island over the years.
'We are here today because children have been abused – because our Island’s institutions failed children and their families.
'We failed children who needed our care, who needed to be protected and listened to.'
'I will not rest until we have done all that we can do to change that,' he continued.
'I accept every recommendation and pledge to build a new culture: one which puts children first every time.'