Six More Sites Being Investigated In Care Home Probe

Police searching a former Jersey children’s home where a child’s remains were discovered have said they are investigating six more sites.

The remains found at Haut de la Garenne on Saturday were detected by a sniffer dog through several inches of concrete.

The search is part of an ongoing police investigation into alleged abuse on the island dating back more than 40 years.

Jersey’s Chief Minister rejected claims there had been a cover-up and said the find “shocked the island to the core”.

Senator Frank Walker told the BBC: “One of the big questions has to be: how could a child disappear without anyone being aware of it?”

Former Jersey Health Minister Senator Stuart Syvret, who was sacked from his post last year, has urged anyone who was at Haut de la Garenne to come forward.

His concerns last year about alleged child abuse in Jersey institutions led to an independent review of child care services by Jersey’s parliament, the States of Jersey.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Mr Syvret alleged that there had been a “culture of cover-up and concealment” on the island in relation to child abuse.

“These types of cover-ups go up to the very top of Jersey society,” he said.

But the Chief Minister said it was “deplorable” that Mr Syvret was seeking to “politicise” the situation.

Jersey police said the dogs and forensic teams had identified other areas that warrant further investigation.

A police spokeswoman said: “There have been a few more sites where the dog has shown interest. We are looking at six more sites.”

Jersey’s Deputy Chief Police Officer, Lenny Harper, who is in charge of the investigation, said detectives thought it was possible they may find more remains at the building in St Martin, on the east coast of the Channel island.

“There’s a fair number of areas where the dog has indicated degrees of interest and we’ll have to get to those over the next short period,” he explained.

“We’re having to treat it as a potential homicide until we can prove otherwise.”

Mr Harper said the archaeologists and forensic scientists were concentrating on a number of “trenches” at the site where the remains were found, and the police would turn their attention to the other areas in the next few days.

He added that it was a “very slow and painstaking business”, and the current search could take another two weeks.

He also said items of clothing had been found which “tends to corroborate” other bodies being found.

The information that sparked the excavation had been provided by three sources, he confirmed.

“We have identities of some missing persons but the records are not as complete from those days as they could be,” said Mr Harper.

Jersey Police began investigating allegations of abuse in 2006.

Haut de la Garenne
Jersey Police began investigating allegations of abuse in 2006.

More than 140 potential victims or witnesses have contacted a helpline set up last year, a police spokeswoman said.

Police have identified dozens of possible suspects in connection with the wider inquiry, with detectives following up leads in Europe and as far away as Australia.

The investigation involves several government institutions and organisations in Jersey, with the Haut de la Garenne home and Jersey Sea Cadets the main focus of the inquiry.

It is centred on the abuse of boys and girls aged between 11 and 15, since the 1960s.

The excavation of the home, involving a sniffer dog and ground radar, started on Tuesday.

The remains have been sent to the UK for dating, as well as for tests to determine the child’s age and gender.

The remains are thought to date from the early 1980s.

Mr Harper said that identification of the child would be a “long and arduous” process but officers were back at police headquarters making inquiries into missing children.

“There are records, just how good those records are for periods before contemporaneous times, I’m not quite sure,” he said.

Haut de la Garenne started life in 1867 as the Industrial School, for “young people of the lower classes of society and neglected children”.

It is now Jersey’s Youth Hostel and featured as a police station in the TV series Bergerac, which is set on the island.

Police say it is vital that any alleged victims still unidentified contact the incident room as soon as possible, on 0800 735 7777. There is also an NSPCC helpline on 0800 169 1173 within Jersey, or + 44(0)20 7825 7489 from outside.