Jersey politicians vote in favour of an abuse inquiry

Jersey’s child care system will now come under scrutiny as politicians have agreed that there should be an inquiry into historic abuse.

It is a reversal of a decision by the council of ministers in February not to hold a full committee of inquiry.

In a debate that took a full day from start to finish, members went through various options.

The original proposition, by Senator Francis Le Gresley, asked ministers to reconsider their decision not to hold a full committee of inquiry.

But that was changed with additions from Deputies Montfort Tadier and Bob Hill.

They narrowed down what the inquiry should look at including specific questions about the care homes themselves, and the prosecution service.

Members in favour of the inquiry said the victims of abuse need closure.

They said there were still unanswered questions about how it was able to happen, and that people should be brought to account.

Senator Jimmy Perchard said the States needed to make reparations to make sure this did not happen again.

He said: “There were people in this chamber in past decades who were aware of these allegations.

“There were members of our police force in past decades who were aware of these allegations.

“There were members judiciary in past decades who were aware of these allegations.

“I want to know why these people chose to turn a blind eye and ignore the cries of helpless children.”

Others thought an inquiry was needed to look into the action of police leading the investigation or to finally put some of the conspiracy theories to bed.

Positive alternatives

Politicians on the other side of the debate were not convinced that a public committee of inquiry would give the victims the outcome they wanted.

They suggested what they thought might be more positive alternatives.

They said, even though the previous council of ministers had promised a committee of inquiry, that was in the heat of the international media storm.

Deputy Eddie Noel said he had a very close friend who was a victim of abuse.

He said: “People listened, his loving family, his friends, the police, social services and many others.

“In the end it didn’t help him and nor would a committee of inquiry.

“Victims need help to find closure, and we must offer that help, but a committee of inquiry will not give them what they seek.”

In the end, once some of the changes had been adopted, the chief minister felt he could not support the original idea any longer.

But despite the lack of ministerial support, the vote was passed with 37 in favour to 11 against and one member abstaining.