Jersey: Full response by the island's chief executive Bill Ogley
Thursday 30 August 2007 09:29
Bill Ogley, chief executive of the States of Jersey, responds to Community Care’s questions
We have received information on a system known as “Grand Prix” which we understand was in use at a secure unit called Greenfields. Why was this in use?
Greenfields is a state of the art £4.5 million Secure Unit for vulnerable and at risk children between the age of 10 and school leaving age. It became operational in September 2006.
This brand new facility replaces an old and moribund secure unit which was called Les Chenes (which still sits on the Greenfields site). The physical fabric of and the working practices at Les Chenes rightly drew criticism from Dr Kathie Bull, who conducted an independent public inquiry into the Les Chenes service and subsequently, other services for children, during 2001 and 2002. The creation of the new Greenfields facility was the direct and tangible outcome of that criticism.
In the interim period – that is, between the findings of Dr Kathie Bull’s report and the opening of the new Greenfields facility – measures were taken to stabilise Les Chenes and create an orderly and safe environment for the children who were cared for there - against a background of children absconding, instances of children harming other children there, and assaults upon staff. One of the measures taken was to introduce a system of rewards and incentives to establish improved behaviours. This was called the “Grand Prix” system. It is based on Formula 1 Racing terms – such as “qualifier”, “grid”, being on the “track” etc.
All the evidence suggests that this Grand Prix system was successful in achieving its purpose - to the extent that it was no longer necessary and was phased out.
Why did the use of the Grand Prix system cease, and when?
The Grand Prix system was formally withdrawn in September 2006 when the new Greenfields became operational. The Grand Prix system was an attempt to create an orderly and safe environment in a physical building (Les Chenes) which was not fit for purpose. Increased investment in staffing, training and the new built environment meant that such a system was no longer required.
An independent inquiry has now been established to examine current child protection arrangements within the States of Jersey including all policies and procedures that are applied at Greenfields.
Has there been any kind of investigation into the previous use of this system? If there has been one, what was the conclusion?
In January 2007, a serious concern was raised by a member of staff using the States of Jersey’s “Raising Serious Concerns Policy’’ (more colloquially known as “the whistle-blowing policy”). This concern included the historical use of the “Grand Prix System” which was investigated by the States of Jersey’s Child Protection Manager. This senior professional – her experience includes being a member of the NSPCC’s Specialist Investigation Service – found that the policies and practices which were in use at Greenfields in January 2007 were consistent with the welfare and safety of the children and with staff safety.
What is in place now?
As previously stated increased investment in staffing, training and the new built environment has meant that policies and procedures more appropriate to the day to day management and support of vulnerable young people in a secure setting are now possible.
The current system which governs the physical restraint of children within all of the States of Jersey’s residential and secure facilities is known as “Therapeutic Crisis Intervention”, an accredited system which is in operation in many countries. Staff are regularly trained in its use and every incident of physical restraint is fully recorded – and those records are reviewed by a specialist who reports to an executive director whose managerial responsibilities are entirely distinct and separate from the Children’s Executive Service responsible for the management of Greenfields.
Are there currently any reasons to suggest practice at Greenfields is not protecting children’s rights adequately?
The policies, practices and staff training in place at Greenfields have been deemed to be robust and appropriate by a senior professional – the States of Jersey’s child protection manager – who is independent of the management of Greenfields.
Can you outline what progress on children’s services in Jersey has been made since the recommendations of the Kathy Bull report?
A major independent public inquiry was undertaken by Dr. Kathie Bull, who was seconded from the Office of Standards in Education (Ofsted) for this purpose. Published in 2002, her report was entitled, “The Principles, Practices and Provision for Children and Young People with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties and Disorders in the Island of Jersey”. One of the principal recommendations was that the States of Jersey create a “Children’s Executive” and that this body be charged with the responsibility of reviewing all the recommendations and bringing forward proposals for service development and improvement in line with the resources made available by the States of Jersey. The recommendations of the subsequent report ‘Meeting the Needs of SEBD Children in Jersey’ (March 2004) were approved by the States of Jersey. All of the recommendations of the ‘Meeting the Needs’ report have been implemented.
We understand the Jersey government has announced a review of children’s services. Can you detail what this will consist of and whether it will involve any UK authorities?
In response to the Senator Syvret’s continuing allegations, the Council of Ministers has made it clear that its overriding concern in this matter is the protection of children.
To date, the Senator has made numerous claims but has produced no evidence and has stated that he is not aware of any immediate danger to a child at this moment.
However, it is clear that in the current climate created by the Senator there is a heightened risk to children and the Council has determined that this must be addressed as quickly as possible. It has therefore decided to establish a thorough independent professional investigation into the standards, structure and performance of the child protection arrangements in Jersey. The initial terms of reference are attached and they will be refined as necessary.
Andrew Williamson CBE has been appointed to undertake the review. This follows advice from Lord Laming, one of the UK’s foremost experts in child protection. Mr Williamson has been Director of Social Services for Devon County, Secretary of the Association of Directors of Social Services, and has extensive non-executive experience in Health. He has undertaken a number of enquiries in Local Authorities and NHS Trusts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. He has also served on the Criminal Justice Council advising the UK Government on all aspects of the Criminal and Judicial system. Mr Williamson has also been engaged in developing child protection services in Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova.
Mr Williamson has now started his initial enquiries. He will be starting work in Jersey in early September and is intent on carrying out a detailed and thorough examination of services and child protection arrangements.
The Chief Minster, Senator Frank Walker commented “I am very pleased that someone so highly respected in the field has agreed to undertake this independent review. In the current climate the Council of Ministers’ overriding concern is the protection of children. We have seen no evidence to support Senator Syvret’s concerns, but for the sake of children who may be at risk and the staff who are being adversely affected we must end the current uncertainty.”
This review which will report to the Council of Ministers in the first instance will be thorough, professional and will be reported openly.
Can you tell us if you are aware of how many UK social workers have come in to Jersey over recent years? Have there been any complaints about services from these social workers? Are you aware that any have left, and are you aware of their reasons for leaving?
Over the last four years, thirty-three social workers have been employed from the UK. Four of these have left after a short period (under six months). Of these four, one worked in the adult social work service, one in the special needs service, and two in children’s services. In two cases the individuals left the Island and resigned retrospectively giving no opportunity to carry out an exit interview – offers of exit interviews being standard practice within the Department.
With regard to the other two, one of the social workers failed their probationary period - and the other resigned before completing her probationary in the knowledge that she would fail. Human resources have two written complaints on file from social workers recruited in the last four years. These have been fully investigated.
How would you respond to allegations that children in Jersey are being put at risk because there are insufficient checks and balances on services, and that staff feel afraid to speak out on poor practice for fear of reprisal?
As the Minister for Health and Social Services has levelled allegations – albeit without evidence to support those allegations – the States of Jersey has decided to commission an independent review which will investigate these allegations and will make recommendations as to any and all actions that are considered immediately necessary to ensure the highest standards of child care and child protection. This work may well inform any formal committee of enquiry which the States of Jersey may subsequently wish to commission. This action has been taken as a matter of urgency to ensure that the current disruption to services and staff is ended as soon as possible and thereby ensure that clients receive the best service.
Jersey whistleblower: Why I went on the record
Thursday 30 August 2007 09:35
For me, there were two separate occasions of going ‘on the record’. The first was back in January when I felt that I had no option but to make a formal complaint about the treatment of children in the secure children’s home. The second was when I decided to publicise my concerns with Community Care.
My formal complaint involved compiling a letter into which I put a great deal of thought and time. I hand delivered it to the Chief Executive of Health and Social Services and to the Directorate Manager of Social Services. They independently reassured me, and even thanked me for having the courage to come forward with my concerns. For a moment I felt comforted. It seemed probable that my concerns would be investigated and that the truth would put an end to the punitive treatment of children and young people in secure accommodation in Jersey. After many months of waiting and isolation from the workplace, I received notification that “no evidence had been found” to support my allegations. I was dismissed from my post within a fortnight.
I followed the relevant appeals processes which eventually led me to the very top, in the form of Senator Syvret, Minister for Health and Social Services. As soon as he received my letter, Senator Syvret telephoned me to hear my side of the story. He felt that the investigations into my complaints did not withstand scrutiny and he called on his senior officers for more information. Senator Syvret made enquiries of his own into Jersey’s children’s services and he was not happy with what he found. A full-on political battle ensued, and now the Council of Ministers is attempting to sack Senator Syvret. I was worried that any chance of justice for Jersey’s looked after children would be buried in a complex – and very public – political wrangle which has clouded and confused the original issues.
Since studying for my Diploma in Social Work, I have always read Community Care and I value the breadth of professional learning I gain from it. I decided that publicising my story was the only way to expose these matters to a wider audience and hopefully force accountability on those officials in Jersey who are responsible for investigating, turning a blind eye to, and then covering up abusive childcare practices.
Would I encourage other people to come forward and go on the record with their concerns? It is a difficult question to answer. I would advise those in the social work profession to exhaust all internal complaints mechanisms and to ensure that they have a written audit trail with evidence to support their concerns. It is important to follow your agency’s whistle-blowing policy and use their appeals process as necessary.
As for me, my career has been threatened, and I now await an employment tribunal to hopefully clear my name. I have endured personal and professional criticism from peers, colleagues and senior managers. My wife and I have suffered extraordinary stress and anxiety. But…I have heard from sources still working at the secure children’s home that most of the child care practices I complained about have ceased, all the improvements I was struggling to introduce have been implemented, and the treatment of young people in secure accommodation in Jersey has definitely improved. Has it been worth it? Yes.
Jersey whistle-blower fears he will be silenced
Tuesday 26 February 2008 11:15
The UK whistleblower who raised concerns over child protection in Jersey fears the island’s government will try to silence him as a police investigation into child abuse widens.
Simon Bellwood told Community Care that officials could deliberately delay his forthcoming employment tribunal in the wake of the recent discovery of a child’s body in a former children’s home.
The social worker also predicted the publication of an independent review of child protection on Jersey by UK expert Andrew Williamson could be delayed as part of a “damage limitation exercise”.
The island came under a media storm this week after Jersey police found the remains of a child’s body in the former children’s home Haut De La Garenne. The discovery was part of an ongoing inquiry into historic institutional child abuse on the island going back to the 1960s. Police are investigating further sites and believe more bodies could be found.
The police investigation began last November, following a separate series of child protection claims by Bellwood and former health and social services minister Stuart Syvret.
Bellwood claims he was unfairly sacked after he blew the whistle on “abusive” child care practice in Jersey and his employment tribunal is scheduled next month.
He says he was unfairly dismissed from his job as centre manager at Greenfields secure unit on the island last year, after raising concerns over a system where children as young as 11 were routinely locked up in solitary confinement.
The case is not believed to be linked to the current police investigation, but helped to spark the Williamson review that is due to be published next month.
Bellwood (pictured right) predicted the Jersey establishment would delay his tribunal and the Williamson review’s publication “to avoid further public exposure”.
He told Community Care the police find was “horrifying and shocking” and said the island’s system still did not offer children protection.
“In the light of these events, the Jersey government needs to review the remit they gave Williamson and bring in another independent observer,” Bellwood said.
Stuart Syvret, Jersey’s former health and social services minister, who claims he was also sacked for raising child protection concerns including Bellwood’s case last year, said he was “not confident” children on the island were currently safe.
Syvret is due to publish evidence of abuse claims today.
In a statement yesterday, Jersey's chief minister senator Frank Walker insisted protection of Jersey's children was of the "highest priority" and said he believed vulnerable children were safe.
He said: "We are totally committed to supporting the police and criminal justice authorities in uncovering any historic abuse and bringing those responsible to justice.
"There will be no hiding place for anyone who abused children or in any way colluded with that abuse. We will commit whatever resources are necessary to the police investigation and to any subsequent criminal cases.
"When investigations are completed, if any cover-up is discovered, we will leave no stone unturned in prosecuting anyone suspected of being responsible: and that includes anyone, at whatever level."
'Abuse was anything from rape to torture. It happened every night'
Victims call for house to be demolished as they reveal full scale of horror at Haut de la Garenne
Former residents at a Jersey care home where police are searching for the remains of up to six children described yesterday how they were repeatedly drugged, raped and abused while supposedly under the protection of the institution's staff.
Testimonies, including one from a leading local trade unionist, painted a horrifying picture of life inside Haut de la Garenne, where more than 1,000 children were housed in the decades before it was closed down.
Peter Hannaford, 59, who lived at the home until he was 12, called for the building to be demolished. Speaking for the first time in public about his ordeal, he described his childhood there as "hell". "The abuse was anything from rape to torture. It was men and women who abused us. It happened every night and it happened to everyone. I was scared to go to bed. You were threatened with punishment if you said anything, which could have been a whip or anything," the union official said.
A mother-of-two, identified only as Pamela, 49, said she spent two years inside the home in the early 1970s. She alleged that the weakest children were selected by members of staff during drunken parties and plied with cigarettes and alcohol.
"The things that happened there are indescribable – the most cruel, sadistic and evil acts you could think of," she said.
Children who fell foul of the authorities were stripped naked and locked in a 10ft "punishment room", she claimed.
"I was sent there if I slipped up in any way – not eating all of my dinner, looking at one of the staff in a funny way, basically any excuse they could find," she said.
"When I fought back a female staff member came in and gave me huge dose of valium that knocked me out, and sexually assaulted me. I was always being drugged."
Some 150 people have contacted police since the discovery of human bones at the care home on Saturday. It also emerged that the notorious paedophile Edward Paisnell, known as the Beast of Jersey, visited Haut de la Garenne during the 1960s.
The political fallout on the island from the affair continued yesterday. The Chief Minister, Frank Walker, issued a statement conceding that "a cloud hangs over Jersey". However, he sought to calm fears of an island-wide cover up by insisting there was "no hiding place in Jersey for anyone who abused children or, who in any way may have colluded with that abuse and no stone will be left unturned to bring them to justice".
But the former health minister who was sacked after blowing the whistle on the children's care home scandal claimed senior figures on the island had concealed evidence of an earlier sex abuse scandal at a school. Senator Stuart Syvret handed out copies of a confidential report from 2000 on the activities of Jervis Dykes, a teacher at the local Victoria College, who was jailed for abusing six pupils between 1979 and 1996.
Mr Syvret also accused the island's newspaper, the Jersey Evening Post, of failing to publish the critical findings, which he had leaked to journalists. The newspaper said the document contained no new information and it had decided not to publish "in deference to the feelings of victims and their families".
Excavation work at the Haut de la Garenne was due to resume today after it was suspended for a structural survey.
Kenny Le Quesne, 57: 'The principal beat me with a birch cane. I used to cry myself to sleep'
Mr Le Quesne stayed at the home for six weeks during the mid 1960s when he was a young teenager.
"My mother sent me there after she caught me stealing some money from her purse," he said. "I should have been there for only a couple of days, but within hours of arriving I ran away. When I returned the principal beat me with a birch cane.
"There were a lot of older boys who had done far worse than steal a shilling. They were all part of gangs and they were terrifying. I used to cry myself to sleep every night.
"On one occasion, one of the boys chucked a lump of fat into the stew I was eating in the lunch hall. One of the guards saw me take it out and hit me. He told me to eat it. When I refused he hit me again. It made me retch, but I had to get it down because everyone was watching me."
FROM STUART SYVRET'S BLOG (THE BLOG IS SILENT AT THE MOMENT AS MR SYVRET IS CURRENTLY IN LA MOYE JAIL ON TRUMPED UP CHARGES, HIS REAL OFFENCE WAS TO PERSIST IN TRYING TO BRING TO JUSTICE THE PEOPLE WHO ABUSED CHILDREN IN JERSEY
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
OF MILLSTONES AND SECRET REPORTS.
My apologies for not posting once every day or so.
Those of you who are familiar with the present dreadful child abuse issues emerging in Jersey will understand that mere blog posts have to come a distant second in time rationing.
I’m writing this at 2.30 AM – many more days and nights like this and I will look even more wrecked.
I hardly know what to say – it’s been such a desperate odyssey. Children raped, battered, abused – possibly murdered.
It would be hard enough to deal with in ordinary circumstances; but I say, frankly, from a personal perspective - these have been very difficult days – well, a difficult year, really.
The international media attention which has turned upon Jersey is a very demanding thing to deal with. I must have had 100 missed calls on my mobile today alone.
But – I’m not complaining. As painful, as ugly, as the issues are – it is through such independent scrutiny we will better protect the vulnerable.
In order to facilitate the expression of the truth, I held a kind of press conference this morning. I came out of the doors of the Jersey parliament building – expecting maybe five TV crews and about ten print journalists. I was taken aback at the sheer size of the media scrum. It was pretty daunting in many ways.
The twenty copies of the confidential report I had with me, were devoured within a minute by the assembled mass of journalists.
I feel I should touch briefly upon that report – not for its contents - at this stage – but because of how my publishing of it was received by the Jersey media – and what further dreadful illustration that response gives of how these awful things were able to happen to vulnerable children – for decades.
Those who have read my blog regularly will know that I hold the Jersey media in extremely low regard – a view now comprehensively justified by events.
We must ask – is there another jurisdiction in the democratic world which would have these terrible abuses of children taking place – for decade after decade – right under the noses of the local media – and there be no meaningful exposé?
In, at least, six decades?
I have said publicly that the Jersey media are actually a part of the problem – a component in the cover-ups and concealment.
Consider the Jersey Evening Post, for example. Today I explained to the national press how I had leaked a copy of the confidential Sharp report to the Jersey Evening Post in the year 2000. They were very keen to get hold of a copy at that time – so when I gave the editor, Chris Bright, the deputy editor Rob Shipley, and the reporter, Dian Simon a copy of the report – face-to-face – in the JEP offices – I expected them to run a series of detailed articles.
The report is so damning – so apocalyptically bad – that no respectable newspaper would get a document like this and not run it.
The JEP didn’t print a single sentence from the report.
They attempt to defend themselves from my criticisms in Tuesday’s edition of The Rag.
It is truly pathetic stuff. But setting aside that which is merely lame in their response – let us instead look at a simple lie told by Rob Shipley – and one, incidentally, echoed by BBC Jersey and Channel Television.
So shamed – so embarrassed – are the Jersey media, at what is clearly an almost unbelievable failure of journalistic ethics and integrity – that even now, they can’t face the truth.
Shipley - like BBC Jersey and Channel Television – have asserted that they didn’t bother running the report story, back in 2000 – because the report had been published already, by the time I gave them a copy.
This is an utter and really quite tragic lie. The report was never “published”; it was guarded like gold-dust by the powers-that-be in Jersey.
It demonstrably was not published. When people like Shipley at the JEP and BBC Jersey and Channel Television casually assert ‘it was published’ – they are simply lying.
The document was Top Secret – because it annihilates the Jersey Establishment.
The JEP recognised this – and being the ‘house-journal’ of the Jersey oligarchy – they buried it.
They buried it to protect the Jersey establishment.
Rob Shipley is simply a liar when he claims it had been ‘published’ as an excuse for the disgusting collusion by the JEP in the cover-up when they failed to report any of the key facts from the leaked copy I gave them.
Let us look at some of the sophistry engaged in by the Jersey media.
They all claim that the ‘findings’ and key-issues had already been reported.
No – they had not.
The conviction of the perpetrator; the failure of the other individuals involved, who had had to resign, was already public knowledge – prior to the Sharp report being concluded. So when the Jersey media attempt to pretend that “there was nothing new – no revelations – in the report” they are simply lying.
What the Jersey Evening Post didn’t report was the clear and un-ambiguous disgusting failure of those involved to protect children.
If this was not the case – could someone please produce for me the JEP leader comment which said Le Breton – the then Vice-Principal who, rightly, had to resign in disgrace - should not be elected as a Jurat (a lay-judge in the island’s court)?
The evidence of the Sharp report is plain – and unambiguous. It demonstrates – in all its hideousness – the culture of cover-up and concealment on the part of the Jersey establishment.
And the failure of the Jersey Evening Post to use the report serves as another clear illustration of the fact that the Jersey media is actually a major part of the problem – a component of the cover-ups.
Would a community with respectable media suffer at least six decades of concealed and foul abuse of children – with virtually all of it going unexposed and un-punished?
How come the national and international media are tackling this subject with professionalism – and the Jersey media are still – even now – lying about their culpability in the cover-ups?
The simple dishonesty exhibited by the Jersey media was echoed in comments made by Senator Mike Vibert. He asserted that the report had not been published (somewhat contradicting the Jersey media angle that it had) because it would have identified the victims.
This is completely untrue.
None – not one – of the victims are identified in the report.
The plain fact is that the cause of effective child protection would have been massively advanced by the publication of the report. The Jersey authorities decided it would be Top Secret – and quite disgracefully the Jersey media went along with that approach – even when I furnished them with the document in the year 2000.
Considering another interesting feature of Tuesday; it was a scheduled meeting of the island’s parliament, during which Senator Frank Walker – Jersey’s Chief Minister – was asked some questions – for example, concerning his catastrophic performance on BBC News Night on Monday evening.
In one of his answers he re-asserted his, apparently, routine tactic in response to the real appaling truth of events. He re-stated that I was merely motivated by nothing else other than a wish to “shaft the island”.
What was remarkable about this answer was not that he said it, – even now – when it must be plain to even the most disinterested observers that we are dealing with an extensive tragedy.
What was starkly revealing was that when Senator Walker repeated this personal attack upon me – it was greeted with the foot-stamping applause which is customary in the Jersey parliament.
If anyone sought an answer as to how things can have gone so badly wrong in this island – how so many children can have been failed – they could begin their contemplation with this event.
What does it say about the Jersey parliament?
We are at a stage when – clearly – multiple despicable abuses, crimes and neglects have been perpetrated against children – over a period of decades.
Even to the extent that the Police Force are searching for the bodies of vanished children.
And the States of Jersey?
They applaud a political, personal attack upon a member whose ‘offence’ has been to fight strongly for the safety and rights of children.
Another despicable voyage to the lower-depths by the States of Jersey.
The irony is, many States members will have attended the special church service on Tuesday evening which was an inter-denominational gathering to offer prayers for the victims.
In the morning – applauding Political attacks on the only States member to have really fought to expose the crimes against children – and in the evening, shuffling along sanctimoniously to church, to pray for the victims.
Only the members of the States of Jersey could be so stupid and so hypocritical.
Sadly, a fact which goes someway to explaining the concealment of these tragedies for decades.
The service was lead by the Dean, the head of Jersey’s Anglican community. In a television interview he quoted the Bible thus:
“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name received me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea”
I spoke this passage in a speech to the Jersy parliamnet before Christmas. I was shouted down, barraked, ordered to stop – and eventulay had my microphone cut.
Amazing – isnt it?
I say these words in December, as an expression of empathy for the victims of child abuse - and to speak of such things brings down damnation upon me from the States of Jersey.
Now – a little over two months later – the Dean quotes these words – and suddenly they are the most aposite expresion of compasion for child victims.
It’s just contemptable – isnt it?
Shortly after the time of my speech being stopped, in corpsondence with me, the Dean was extremly equivical in his comments; he clearly didn’t support what I had said, or my right to say it.
Why the sudden change of heart, Bob?
I didn’t go to the church service – resigning myself to the inevitable PR assaults upon me by the Jersey establishment for my non-attendance – because I was doing something vastly more important; I was meeting with some victims; listening to them; offering them support.
Now – as these events unfold – their story will be heard – soon.
And what their sufferings say about the Jersey ‘system’ is more stark and truthful than a hundred church services.