The findings of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry were released to the public at 3pm today. The Jersey Care Leavers’ Association, who I have represented throughout this inquiry have been looking forward to the publication of this report with great anticipation.
It is a truly humbling experience to read this report which is moving, upsetting and disturbing.
The Inquiry has thrown down the gauntlet to the States of Jersey, lawmakers and politicians to make serious changes to child protection fit for the 21st Century. The Report comprehensively addresses a series of issues that were a concern, and in many cases remain to be so.
The findings are welcomed and are a tribute to the courage of the survivors – not just those who came forward to give evidence to the Inquiry, but also to those who gave evidence to the police as part of Operation Rectangle. Were it not for the survivors and their bravery, Operation Rectangle and subsequent investigations would never have seen the successful prosecution of offenders or the creation of the Inquiry in the first place.
Of course, it was impossible for the Inquiry to determine every dispute and answer every question, but it has clearly shown there existed a complete lack of respect for children in care, leading to their exploitation and abuse by those charged with caring for them.
Looking to the future, the way ahead now is for Jersey to embrace the report, and for politicians to enact its recommendations. Ahead of the report, The Jersey Care Leavers’ Association, whose members I represent, wanted to see an independent body appointed to oversee child protection. The report’s recommendation to establish a Children’s Commissioner is therefore welcomed, and I urge the States of Jersey to enact this as a matter of urgency.
Measures such as this must be in place to ensure that serious failings of the past are not repeated again. In short, this is a momentous day for child protection in both Jersey and the UK, and this report provides a strong path and template for the future.