The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry (ICJI)
In 2006, the States of Jersey Police began an investigation, later dubbed Operation Rectangle, into allegations of the abuse of children in care that had taken place on the island from the 1960s onwards. Evidence from witnesses increasingly placed the focus on a home known as Haut de la Garenne, which had begun life in 1867 as a boys' Industrial School, subsequently becoming known as the Jersey Home for Boys. In 1960, it merged with the Jersey Home for Girls and adopted the name Haut de la Garenne. The home finally closed in 1986. In February 2008, excavations at the site unearthed what were initially thought to be skull fragments although subsequent forensic analysis suggested they were more likely to be wood or coconut shell.
In March 2008, Jimmy Savile began legal proceedings against the Sun newspaper for linking him to the abuse at Haut de la Garenne. He claimed he had never visited the place, but later admitted having done so after a photograph emerged of him at the home surrounded by children.
In 2009 and 2010 a number of individuals were convicted of child abuse offences. These included Michael Aubin, for acts of gross indecency and indecent assault on children under the age of 10, committed while he himself was a child resident of Haut de la Garenne; Gordon Wateridge, for acts of indecent assault and count of assault while employed as house parent at Haut de la Garenne in the 1970s; and a married couple, Morag and Anthony Jordan, for physical abuse also while working as house parents in the 1970s.
Other complaints by former inmates about the treatment they received, such as being made to take cold showers, being slapped about the head, or flicked with a wet towel, were deemed not to warrant court proceedings.
In 2013, following continued complaints about police handling of the investigations, the States announced the setting up of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry which began its hearings in July 2014. The inquiry, chaired by Frances Oldham QC, promised that it would conduct a robust and fearless examination of what went wrong and find answers for people who suffered abuse as children.
The Inquiry presented its report to the States of Jersey in July 2017. Its key findings included:
- A condemnation of decades of institutional failure for vulnerable children in the island
- The Haut de la Garenne building should be demolished for the sake of survivors
- Children today 'may still be at risk'
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