Thursday, 3 March 2016
Oral Evidence of VFC (Jersey Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry).
As part of phase 3(d) of the on-going Jersey Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry: “To assist in the development of recommendations for the future care of children in Jersey, the Inquiry invites submissions (maximum 3000 words) from organisations with expertise in the care of children and young people and from departments tasked with providing services that contribute to the welfare of children and young people in Jersey.” VFC was invited to make an oral submission after submitting a written submission as part of Phase 3(c), which we published HERE.
Below is a rough copy of my Oral submission today which lasted about an hour. Many of the points were elaborated on and were pretty much positively received by the Panel.
I started off by thanking the panel for giving me the opportunity to make a submission and after explaining that “I make the submission as a father of two children, member of the public who has real concerns for the current, and future safety of children and whistle blowers on the Island. I don’t claim to be an expert but am happy to share my knowledge and experience as a lay member of the public in the hope that the Panel will take on board some grass-roots observations and experiences.”
“You’ve heard from all the so-called “experts” in this field and one must remember a number these “experts” have been employed by our government while the Abuse was taking place. Indeed a number of them, unbelievably, (or not) are still employed by them.
I have nothing to gain by speaking with this Inquiry, indeed, quite the opposite.
Jersey, and society as a whole, needs to start thinking outside the box. Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
I’ve listened to many an “expert” witness at this Inquiry and I’ve heard nothing new. They are all saying the same things “minister for children” “Ombudsman for children” Child’s advocate.” What is that really going to achieve? I argue absolutely nothing; it’s civil servant/politician platitudes. Alan Collins said yesterday "you could go through a hundred years of Hansard of people arguing about this very subject we’re wrestling with today in 2016."
What I haven’t heard from ANYBODY is how could society, or the government and its authorities understand the paedophile?
Surely the best way to protect our children is to start understanding their predators? Why does a paedophile have to harm a child before he, or she, gets any kind of attention? Prison is NOT a deterrent; prisons all over the UK are full of paedophiles. Courts, across the UK, are full of them.
I’d like to see some kind of a study into paedophiles and a confidential “help centre” or phone “hotline” set up. Somewhere, or someone, they can go to and speak about their urges/feelings in strict confidence. Possibly a Councilor/shrink or someone of that nature. If we can understand the paedophile, then in turn, we can protect our children.
Where would the money come from? This could be easily achieved through government departments all chipping in a few quid. Health&SS, Education, Home Affairs, who are the current so-called “corporate Parent.”
I have to say, as touched on earlier, that most of what I’ve heard at this Inquiry, I could go to ANY Inquiry tackling Child Abuse, and its concealment for decades, and hear the exact same box ticking platitudes. If this Inquiry wants to make its mark and really want to stand out from all other Inquiries, and leave Jersey’s children with a fighting chance after it leaves Jersey then it has to start looking outside the box, and recommending that there is more help/support and understanding of paedophiles or potential paedophiles. If we can stop them harming our children rather than locking them up after they have ruined a child and their family’s life then I think any child/parent would thank you for it. Then Jersey could truly be A WORLD LEADER in the protection of children.
For children to be made safer in Jersey the whole culture needs to change and “The Jersey Way” needs to be cosigned to history and that isn’t going to happen any time soon. The “Power’s That Be” need to start listening to those who challenge them, they need to take on-board the criticisms leveled at them. As things stand they (TPTB) go all out to silence and ruin anybody who challenges them. Anybody who questions power need to be silenced in case it damages the reputation of Jersey. They can’t see the irony that those who purport to be looking out for Jersey’s reputation are the very people who are ruining it. For centuries the corrupt/politicised judiciary has been subjecting those who rock the Jersey Boat to Kangaroo Courts. I can elaborate on a couple of cases if the Panel wishes (which I did).
Victims/Survivors, from a starting point, need to be believed and not trashed or discredited. This is something that was suggested by the then Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmmer in the wake of the Savile atrocities and clearly hasn’t been accepted by some, including witnesses to this Inquiry. Victims/Survivors are STILL being accused of compo seeking/criminals/addicts/trouble makers on this island and this is Post Savile/Kincora/Mid Staffs/North Wales/Rotherham/Rectangle. This mindset needs to change. The media should, and could, play its part in this. They (the media) could just drop one word, which would help in this regard. The word “historic” is being used to describe this Inquiry’s work although the word historic doesn’t feature in the Inquiry’s title and indeed it is investigating allegations of Abuse up to 2014.
The Panel needs to look at the democratic deficit and how Jersey is structured if it is to make any meaningful recommendations in its report. The role of the Judiciary needs a very close examination, as they are the unelected/unaccountable real power of Jersey. The AG holds all the power and is structurally conflicted. He advises the Executive AND Scrutiny. He advises Ministers and then decides what cases get prosecuted against the State, or don’t get prosecuted which is more often the case than not.
If the UK refuses to restore good governance and the rule of law on the Island although, as mentioned in my PREVIOUS SUBMISSION it might not be the best outcome due to its own perceived, or otherwise, corruption.
I would firstly recommend that there is an independent Department/Director of Public Prosecution set up that is appointed by, and overseen by, the UK. possibly the Privy Council? Ministry of Justice? That way the Attorney General’s Office would be less conflicted and some much needed trust and confidence could be put back into our so-called “Justice” system. A fairly recent Social Survey found that 50% of the public had no confidence in the judiciary, 60% didn’t trust the local State Media and 75% didn’t trust the Government.
Secondly, as in my PREVIOUS SUBMISSION, I would suggest that the Panel look into, and recommend, Mandatory Reporting. One of the reasons this abuse was able to go on for so long is because it was easy to turn a blind eye and not “damage Jersey’s Reputation.” Mandatory Reporting would be a deterrent.
Thirdly there needs to be an off-island independent body set up for whistleblowers. You heard only the other day, (Jo Olsson) and all through this Inquiry that people are still, if not even more scared, to speak out against management/authority. How this body would be set up and paid for would be something the Panel would need to look into but I am willing to research a few ideas in order to assist if that is required.
Finally I would recommend that the Inquiry should recommend that the UK should oversee, and ensure, it’s final report/recommendations are followed up. The Inquiry has been told by many witnesses that its recommendations will be ignored by our government. Indeed Ian Le Marquand, while giving evidence as a witness to the Inquiry, uncontrollably laughed when asked, by the Chair if he believed its recommendations will be acted on. There are millions of £’s worth of reports/reviews etc. Gathering dust at the States Building. The good people of Jersey and more importantly Victims/Survivors and the children of today and the future don’t deserve this to be another twenty three million quid’s worth of dusty report on a shelf.(END)