· There is no general understanding of exactly what is the significance or intended effect of senior legal figures being appointed by the Crown. (Bailiff/Deputy Bailiff/Solicitor General/Attorney General etc.) There might be a general expectation that their role is to represent the interests of the British Crown in Jersey but instead they sometimes appear to position themselves as the defenders of Jersey interests against British intrusion. It is unclear where their loyalties lie or where they should lie.
· So far as is generally understood, HM Lieutenant Governor is the representative of British Crown interests with a responsibility for monitoring good governance and the proper administration of justice. Yet he now appears to be appointed by the very people he is expected to oversee. There is little information on how the Governor’s duties are discharged in practice As reported by VFC HERE. For example, there is no transparent system of reporting on the activity of the Governor in respect of those things, which he is apparently supposed to observe, or what conclusions if any the Governor has reached and what actions he is taking in consequence. No information is available on the qualifications or training which is required for the Governor to discharge this particular role nor is it clear why a retired General should be considered the best person for the position?
· Democratic participation in the island appears to be low. There is a high level of non-registration for voting and a low level of turnout at elections. The electoral system appears to be tilted in favour of “Old Jersey” interests in the rural parishes. Cynicism around the processes of democracy and governance is widespread.
· Taken together much of the above presents a picture of a system of governance, which has a number of semi-feudal elements, few of which are accountable by any visible means.
· The Jersey political and public sector appears to have an entrenched culture of inertia. Many witnesses to the on-going Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry have provided evidence of the extreme challenges which can face anyone attempting to deliver change. Progressive innovation is rarely encouraged and is sometimes (more often than not) punished. There is a long history of reports and inquiries, which have produced sensible recommendations that have not been implemented or acted upon. It should be remembered that the Jersey Government argued that the current Committee of Inquiry was unnecessary because “lessons had been learned” and the necessary changes made. The Inquiry is only taking place because the Jersey Government’s view was overruled by a rare backbench revolt that now appears to be well justified by the evidence. The past experience of external reviews too often consists of well-evidenced and constructive reports gathering dust on departmental shelves because nobody has the skills, inclination or support to take them forward or because those with responsibility are fearful of the consequences of doing so.
· There is a conspicuous lack of any consistent external and independent inspection regime with transparent reporting and follow-up. Increasingly in the UK public services, including those providing criminal justice, are subject to regular independent scrutiny. This is far less frequent in Jersey, which arguably needs this type of attention more than most regions of the UK. Where such arrangements have been in place in the past they appear in some cases to have quietly “died a death.” (For instance our Police Force hasn't been HMIC inspected for the best part of 8 years)
· For whatever reason the Jersey media appears to be noticeably non-intrusive and, for the most part, uncritical in respect of the Jersey authorities. If any further disturbing issues emerge in the island it is unlikely to be as a result of investigative journalism. There will be little that the Committee of Inquiry can do about this but it adds strength to the question of who will bring intrusive scrutiny to bear upon government/judicial actions/inactions/corruption in the future?
· It should be remembered that while some of the above raises fine points of constitutional theory, this is not an academic exercise. The well-being of vulnerable people is at stake. The Committee of Inquiry exists because there were decades of preventable suffering in institutions operated by the Jersey Government, and nobody did anything about it. When people subsequently attempted to do something about it they have given evidence, to the Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry, that they encountered a range of difficulties and lack of support from the Jersey authorities, and among those creating the difficulties were people who purported to represent the Crown. Unless there is significant change there is a high probability that further preventable suffering will occur.
· Whatever the Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry recommends, if matters are left to the Jersey authorities, most of the required changes will not happen. Change will only be achieved by strong and authoritative external intervention, followed by intrusive monitoring backed by some form of potential sanction. The Committee of Inquiry should not under estimate the extent to which entrenched Jersey interests will seek to resist, obstruct and subvert any reforms that it recommends.