BREAKING NEWS: Notorious ‘house of horrors’ children’s home at centre of abuse scandal in Jersey should be DEMOLISHED, report says
- Notorious Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey ‘should be demolished’
- Report into abuse and mistreatment of youngsters at home has been published
- Paedophile Jimmy Savile was implicated in home with alleged assault in 1970s
The Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey should be demolished, a long-awaited report into historical abuse and mistreatment of youngsters on the island has recommended.
The home, dubbed ‘the house of horrors’, was where hundreds of crimes were carried out over decades before it was shut in the 1980s.
The recommendation to consider demolishing its buildings came in an inquiry report detailing the tragic history of abuse on the island.
The notorious Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey ‘should be demolished’, according to an inquiry
The Jersey home, dubbed ‘the house of horrors’, was where hundreds of crimes were carried out over decades before it was shut in the 1980s
A forensics officer and police dog pictured searching the Haut de la Garenne in 2007
The inquiry, chaired by Frances Oldham QC, said: ‘We believe that the buildings at Haut de la Garenne are a reminder of an unhappy past or shameful history for many people.’
It said the home was a ‘symbol of the turmoil and trauma’ of the police inquiry into the abuse.
The inquiry was set up to establish what went wrong over many years in the care system on the island, which has been rocked by horrific revelations of sex abuse against children in care.
The most notorious of them was Haut de la Garenne children’s home.
Paedophile Jimmy Savile was implicated in the home’s shady past, with an allegation received by police in 2008 that an indecent assault occurred there in the 1970s.
But it was decided there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
A long-awaited report has been published following an inquiry into historical abuse and mistreatment of youngsters at children’s homes in Jersey stretching back decades
Police launched an extensive search of the home and land around it following the discovery of what were thought to be human remains in 2007
The inquiry was set up to establish what went wrong over many years in the care system on the island, which has been rocked by horrific revelations of sex abuse against children in care
Police combed the home and area around it in 2007 and in 2010, the island’s chief minister Terry Le Sueur issued a formal apology to all victims who suffered in the states’ residential care system
The report went on: ‘We recommend that consideration be given as to how the buildings can be demolished and that any youth or outdoor activity or services for children located on the site should be in modern buildings bearing no resemblance to what went before.’
In a famine report, the inquiry said persistent failures existed at all levels in the management, operation and governance of children’s homes in Jersey for decades.
The States of Jersey proved to be an ‘ineffectual and neglectful substitute parent’ for children already placed at a disadvantage in life.
The inquiry also found that some children were put into care without a lawful basis, including for petty theft and for being rude.
And it found that, once in care, children, some of whom suffered physical and sexual abuse, were ‘effectively abandoned in the care system’ and ‘left powerless for decades’.
The report said there was a long absence of political and professional will in Jersey to monitor care standards.
The States of Jersey had asked the inquiry to probe the abuse and mistreatment of youngsters placed in children’s homes and in foster care on the island from the Second World War.
The report found that, once in care, children, some of whom suffered physical and sexual abuse, were ‘effectively abandoned in the care system’ and ‘left powerless for decades’
Forensics Services Manager Vicky Coupland examining the second cellar at Haut De La Garenne
A forensics officer and police dog search the exterior of Haut de la Garenne
In December 2010, the island’s chief minister Terry Le Sueur issued a formal apology to all victims who suffered in the states’ residential care system.
The apology followed the end of an investigation by the States of Jersey Police, codenamed Operation Rectangle, into historical child sexual, emotional and physical abuse in institutions.
The probe reported 553 alleged offences between September 2007 and December 2010 – and most, 315, were reported to have been committed at the Haut de la Garenne.
Police identified 151 named offenders and 192 victims but just eight people were prosecuted for 145 offences, with seven convictions. Four of them related to Haut de la Garenne.
The probe left the reputation of the island’s police tarnished with claims of murders at Haut de la Garenne made in 2008 later discredited after a piece of ‘skull’ was found to be coconut and what had been called ‘punishment rooms’ where children were tortured were found to be too small for an adult to stand up in.
Then in 2013, the States Assembly agreed terms of reference for a public inquiry to carry out a wide-ranging investigation into the historical abuse in Jersey.
A police forensics officer ‘sifting’ through the collected rubble from the building for any evidence
Inquiry chair Frances Oldham QC promised a ‘robust and fearless’ examination of what went wrong and to find answers for the victims.
At a preliminary hearing in 2014, Ms Oldham said they would investigate what abuse took place, whether it was reported and what was done, and whether abuse was covered up.
She also promised to review the actions of the police, the justice system, politicians and the various government agencies to consider how each responded to child abuse in Jersey.
Three phases of hearings were held in public in St Helier between July 2014 and June 2016.
Alan Collins, partner at Hugh James solicitors, which represents abuse survivors from the Jersey Care Leavers’ Association, said: ‘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 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.
‘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.’