08 November 2017
A major project is underway to archive all public documents from the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry and to ensure full and open access to all members of the local and worldwide community through the Jersey Archive.
Jersey Archive is the Island’s National Repository under the Public Records Law, and is independent from the States of Jersey. The archive team will initially receive around 250,000 individual pages in digital form.
This is the biggest digital archive ever to be managed by the Jersey Archive and the service is committed to making all public domain material from the Inquiry open for the public to access at the Archive as well as online.
Archives and Collections director, Linda Romeril, said that the Archive is conscious of the personal and distressing nature of the accounts of abuse provided by anonymous witnesses to the Inquiry.
Mrs Romeril said “Staff will work with sensitivity and care over the next couple of years sorting, cataloguing and indexing the material to do justice to the important and often harrowing aspects of Jersey’s history they contain.
“Any material that could identify witnesses who’ve asked to remain anonymous will be kept off-island and out of the public domain for an extended period determined by relevant legislation, likely to be at least 100 years.”
Details of the arrangements will be disclosed later.
As the Island’s repository for highly confidential files from States of Jersey departments, Jersey Archive made a major contribution to the Inquiry. Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, said: “I am pleased to see progress in this area and remain committed to engaging with survivors and the wider public in developing a plan to address the legacy issues identified by the inquiry report which have their own unique set of sensitivities.
“While the Inquiry report documents are painful to read, we must do so and keep open to the public and wider world as part of Jersey’s history. It allows us to better understand the pain and hurt experienced by children and ensure the greatest level of safety and protection for our children in the future, in order that they may flourish.”
Large quantities of historic evidence given to the inquiry by States agencies came from the Archive. This documentation has been returned by the departments and is already stored securely in the Jersey Archive.
The Chair of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, Frances Oldham QC, said: “The public domain material from the Inquiry will be an important part of Jersey’s heritage and the Panel is confident it will be carefully curated and managed in perpetuity by the highly skilled professionals of the Jersey Archive.
“Anonymous witnesses to the Inquiry were assured that information that could identify them and their families would not be shared with any agency or individual in Jersey. In these unique circumstances, the Panel have sought secure, off-island, archive facilities with experience of handling inquiry material, where the confidential data can be lodged. The Panel will consult with the Jersey Archive and representatives of the States of Jersey regarding the facilities it is considering before arrangements are finalised.”
Mrs Romeril added that she is open to suggestions from anyone who wants to share ideas on how they would like the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry public records to be presented on the Jersey Archive online catalogue, to ensure that the contents of these public domain documents are easily searchable.
She said that the records were due to be transferred to the Archive before the end of the year and that members of the public should start to see content appearing online in early 2018, however it would take 2-3 years to process all the documents. All records stored at Jersey Archive are catalogued by professional staff and made available through the archives and collections online.