Friday, 19 March 2010

Childrens Champion for Jersey – Where are YOU?

Yesterday Andrew Williamson of “Williamson Report” fame appeared as a witness before a Scrutiny Panel to report back on progress to date.
It made dismal hearing for those who could cut through the PR cr*p.

He was followed by Mike Taylor who heads up the Jersey Child Protection Committee (JCPC) and here was yet more of the same

For anybody who listened to the hours of “bureau speak” it became more and more obvious why childrens’ social workers are still being sacked in places like Birmingham and why yet more abuse scandals are being revealed all over the world.

The fact is that decent people like Williamson and Taylor are steeped in the very same traditional way of thinking that is an integral part of the problem. They still believe that the answer to every problem is to form a committee and if possible several linked sub-committees.

During more than two hours of discussion yesterday the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was not mentioned once by anybody. Vetting and Barring was also ignored.
There were no original or radical solutions on offer and Mike Taylor conceded that in the UK, even if you are a local authority with the most efficient child protection systems in place, it is not possible to predict that a serious abuse problem will not hit you! The warning indicators might not be present!

So what is the point of any safeguards then – if the abusers can still run rings around them? Short of asking abusers to declare themselves – what do these polite bureaucrats really expect?

Ironically, it was Constable Silva Yates who instinctively realised how inadequate it all was. He had already expressed his frustration at a previous Scrutiny meeting this week on Income Support and how he was now hamstrung by the bureaucratic restraints of Data Protection and the Social Security department and prevented from helping directly those in need in his own Parish. “I am not allowed to know who they are” he had pleaded – and he realised that the 24 person Committee and the endless sub-committees of the Jersey Child Protection body was yet more of the same.

Of course, Silva Yates speaks as an example of the “benign dictatorship” that is afforded to people who have the ability and power to act spontaneously and using their own discretion. This is just what is still lacking for children in Jersey – there is still no single person – a Minister or Commissioner or whatever – who can be approached directly by ANYBODY and has the authority to initiate direct action.

As was revealed, even the obscure JCPC website still declares:
“If you wish to raise a concern about the immediate safety or welfare of a child please do not contact the JCRC - Instead, you should call the Childrens Service. If you need to contact someone outside normal hours, you should call the States of Jersey Police.”

No immediate help there of course and not even the alternative telephone numbers or links. It sums up the whole attitude of child protection and welfare. Not just in Jersey but within so many governments, authorities, institutions and bureaucracies world-wide. And, call who at Jersey Police by the way………..?

There were so many obvious inadequacies revealed in these few hours of discussion. It was not just the shortcomings of the answers but, as always it was the lack of coordinated and systematic questioning by the scrutinizing States Members.
Endless promises of “teamwork” and “robust responses” are empty and meaningless words when the witnesses were not even able to clarify precisely what are the age limits for children in Jersey for the purposes of the proposed Childrens Plan?

As in the past, a central problem is to coordinate the various activities of three distinct Jersey Ministries – Health, Education and Home Affairs – but, as always this was just a fresh coat of paint over the same old failed model and it should be evident to everybody that when it comes to the crunch, adequate funding will not be available to repair or reform the system properly.

Inevitably, the general public were noticeable by their absence at yesterday’s most important meeting. It was just as well because there was no available seating and as always, they would have been required to keep silent.

And so it goes on.

Subitted by Thomas Wellard.


  1. Listening to Mr Williamson on CTV tonight he 'thinks the Children's Service went through a difficult period, and he thinks they are making improvements'.

    Why oh why doesn't he KNOW? Making improvements? They should have been made and have been seen to have been made.

  2. Good points made very clearly.

  3. Magistrate Bridget Shaw is leading the way now with the 10 yera old girl thing.

  4. Having just watched the video, why is it that nothing changes, or improves, until an independent body is brought in??? Always the same story, can't our halfwits get anything right!!!

    Scottish Inspection Agency!!! Jesus Christ, just look at the cover-up with the Hollie Grieg story.

  5. Thomas Wellard.

    You said " Vetting and Barring was also ignored."

    Perhaps you are forgetting a senior Civil Servant at the Education Department is/was a suspect in the Child Abuse Investigation, wasn't suspended and remains in post to this day.

    "Vetting and Barring" would be a very uncomfortable subject to discuss, and would take some "balls" something Scrutiny is lacking in.

    As we know, the States of Jersey has "a duty of care" when it comes to their Civil Servants. It is just a shame that "duty of care" doesn't stretch to our children!

  6. It is possible that children's services will not escape the swinging axe of the Comprehensive Spending Review, that threatens all public services. The Jersey Child Protection Committee currently operates on a budget of £270,000, spent mainly on staffing.

    Williamson acknowledged that morale amongst social workers in the UK was not high and that there were many unfilled vacancies in many regions, having been battered by recent scandals. One wonders therefore what the situation is like in Jersey?

    Overall the meeting was very sleep inducing.

  7. 'Perhaps you are forgetting a senior Civil Servant at the Education Department is/was a suspect in the Child Abuse Investigation, wasn't suspended and remains in post to this day.'

    True and also be careful when trying to give evidence on behalf of someone to the police on him, because if the name turns up on his desk, he is the one who gives social services the OK to kidnap your children from school - funny that isn t it.

  8. Talk Back this morning is doing full 360 degree circles, nobody is anymore the wiser since 10.00 am this morning. Need more news on this ACPO scandal though.

  9. Ian Le Marquand just stated on phone in that he would not be pressured as Andrew Lewis might have been by anyone including the Chief Minister or above,placed this question with the show but no time to get on.
    Question "who is above the C.M"?
    Is this comment proof of Civil servants being perceived to be above politicians in the pecking order?.

  10. ILM initially thought the original GP suspension was suspect, but then he admits he took advice from the Law Officers to change his mind - I assume this means the Bayleaf and deputy, AG and SG etc.

    That doesn't comfort me in the slightest!

  11. ILM says he has no problem ethically or morally about the continued suspension because of what he's read in the Interim Wilts reports - but I thought he hadn't read any evidence and couldn't take any notice of such things?

    Towards the end of Talkback he said the entire GP susp. depended on the way GP allegedly failed to oversee how Lenny handled the case - despite the ACPO report recommendations to the contrary that he should not get involved at that level!!

    It really doesn't add up, he's clutching at straws trying to besmirch ACPO and insinuate scandal - we REALLY need a PUBLIC enquiry ASAP to clear the air and give the islanders faith in how this place is being run - or not!

  12. ILM says that he has not looked at the ACPO reports because he has enough evidence as it is.

    What he keeps repeating is that he has seen something in the Met report concerning GP, which is completely out of order and on that basis he is keeping him suspended.

    Senator,why dont you share this shocking evidence, which only you have, from this Met report, which only you have?

  13. Dear VFC

    I'd like to ask Lennie a question if possible.

    Ian Le Marquand on talkback got very animated about the ACPO reports repeating that there was a big scandal about them (that he couldn't tell us about because it is all 'confidential') however with a bit of probing he hinted at two things

    1. That someone on the ACPO team had a conflict of interest and shouldn't have been involved.

    2. That verbal concerns and recommendations were raised with the Jersey police about the HDLG investigation that were not put into the written report because the Jersey officers did not want to follow this advice.

    Lennie, can you shed any light on this and what your take is on Le Marquand's latest comments?

    (PS word verification 'incults' ha ha very apt)

  14. So Senator (P9-26) Le Marquand has got something "scandalous" to reveal about ACPO? Something that will bring their integrity into question? Oh my god, how will anybody be able to trust ACPO again?

    You see the power of the good Senator? He is going to bring about the downfall of ACPO and expose to the world what a corrupt bunch of crooks they are, along with anybody else who try's to give any credibility to the child abuse investigation. Good on you Senator, you really are a giant amongst men.

    Either that or your a completey deluded individual who hasn't got a clue what you are getting yourself involved in.

    For your sake and indeed for the sake of Jersey's reputation and integrity I hope you have got something earth shattering explosive on ACPO, because it's going to need to be.

  15. I listened to the phone in today and apart from saying that 'you couldn't make it up' (one of Stuart Syvrets favourite sayings) about 4 times you didn't actually ask anything of importance. Shame you missed your chance to ask some worthwhile questions.

  16. VFC

    Haven't we wondered what ILM & Co would do next to spin this? Nothing could be MORE predictable than the "secret scandalous bombshell" about GP which no one will ever reveal. Maybe that is because they are still trying to pull the whole secret report together, and can only hint at the content until it actually exists. Disgusting!


  17. Rico

    Slightly off topic but I could not get my comment to send on your other site regarding the alleged coc-no-nut.

    It was stated in the infamous article by the discredited David Rose and on wikipedia's Jersey abuse investigation page among others, that Kew Gardens tested the fragment and confirmed the type of coconut.

    It is entirely possible that once the fragment changed size, color and shape, it did so after an actual coconut was substituted for the original piece. The obvious motive to discredit Harper seems as likely as any other explanation for that dramatic change in the state of the evidence.

    But is is also possible the Kew Gardens testing was made up by the hack David Rose? Wouldn't surprise his peers.

    I know the whole coconut saga is irrelevant since the area it was retrieved from was discounted by Harper from the investigation anyway, but it might be helpful to further look into the Kew Gardens link.

    Whether or not the Kew Gardens identification of a coconut can be verified, someone urgently needs to change the misleading story on wikipedia's page.

  18. Well said VFC - I think Ian Le Marquand lost all credibility today.

    Are we aware of who authored the ACPO reports (Lenny?), and I have to say that if one of the authors were conflicted, is it not a fact that Ian Le Marquand and CM Le Sueur were massively conflicted over Bob Hill's proposition on a public enquiry, and should not have voted.

    That was a very efficient Tooth Fairy at HdelaG. Tidied up the teeth and pushed all 65 of them through gaps in the floorboards!!

    Pull the other one Senator - even a child could not make that one up.

  19. Although I did ask a number of questions and it is a pity the commenter couldn't have heard them.

    One that never got answered was "how many victims came forward after Mick Gradwell and David Warcup took over the Child Abuse investigation?"

    We know somewhere in the region of 150 came forward When Lenny Harper was running the show.

    So if we could compare that against the amount of people who came forward when Gradwell was running it, we might have a better idea as to who run the best media stategy.

    But alas I believe this is going to be yet another question (that the commenter never heard) that will remain un-answered.

  20. If someone thinks different questions should be asked on the phone in, that someone should phone in and ask next time ;) - the more the merrier.

  21. Just copied and pasted this from another site.
    "Just listened to the talk back show.

    Senator Le Marquand said it was Warcop not Graham Power that invited the Met Police to review the investigation, yet on reading the Suspension review meeting notes after Graham Powers said he invited the Met Police ILM said:

    I have to say, obviously I have had conversations with different people on different occasions, but I have to say that the understanding I have picked up from other conversations accord with what Mr. Power is saying".


  22. Senator Le Marquand, when confronted with a couple of thousand unhappy and roudy union members at Fort Regent last Summer, looked bewildered and nieve, if anything the members there felt sorry for him, because realistically this was his first face to face confronation with some of the good honest people of Jersey and he looked weak and vunerable, he carried on even though he was in the spot light and dug himself deeper and deeper into a hole, but the good people there that night allowed him to get away with what he was saying because he was a "new boy" that could only learn from his mistakes....

    But today has proved that this hasn't and will not happen.

  23. I have responded to some of what is being asked on Stuart Syvret's bog. However, in respect of the specifics asked here, I will add the following.
    It is alleged that someone on the team had a conflict of interest. Strange one this - none of them had any connection with Jersey before they were appointed - and they were appointed by ACPO in the UK, not by the SOJP.
    Verbal concerns were raised (presumably by the ACPO team)with the SOJP but were not put in the written report because we did not want to follow the advice. This is rubbish and simply untrue. There was some advice that we didn't follow, but the advice is in the report - for instance, the points system for judging what were serious offences! Why would we have anything left out? This is a gross insult to the ACPO team. Furthermore, the ACPO team had the private meeting with Walker, Ogley, and Lewis. If anything was amiss they could have raised it at any time. ACPO remained constructive and helpful up until I left.
    The ACPO reports were an amalgamation of the work of all three members. For instance, one of them was an expert on the HOLMES computer system, so he went through our work on there. One was the UK's leading Homicide investigator, so he examined that aspect of it. That was the way the reports were compiled.
    I hope this helps. Lenny Harper