03 July 2017
Jersey's Chief Minister has made the following statement following the publication of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report:
I would like to start by saying I’m sorry to all those who suffered abuse in our Island over the years.
We are here today because children have been abused – because our Island’s institutions failed children and their families.
We failed children who needed our care, who needed to be protected and listened to.
Too often, children were not believed. Unpalatable truths were swept under the carpet because it was the easiest thing to do.
I am deeply sorry – we did not do what we should have done. People cared more for the status quo, for a quiet life, than for children.
Those institutional failings do not excuse those individuals who abused and hurt children or colluded in their pain. I will not defend them.
This Inquiry has heard from hundreds of people.
I’d like to thank those who spoke of their own difficult childhood experiences.
I know that it was very hard for them to do so.
The telling of their stories will help others to understand how they suffered.
It will help us to acknowledge what happened in our community.
I am speaking today from the Jersey Archive, which will house the Inquiry's records.
The Archive is the repository for our Island’s collective memory; it tells the story of who we are, and where we have come from. Our failings, and the hurt suffered, are part of that story.
What people have told the Inquiry – and what people have done – cannot be forgotten.
We heard this afternoon from the Chair of the Inquiry, Frances Oldham, who said that for many children our institutions proved to be ineffectual and neglectful.
The Inquiry highlights ten fundamental failings in Jersey’s care system, including, most importantly, the failure to listen to children.
I am shocked. I am saddened. I am sorry.
This report rams home some cold, hard, brutal truths.
Over decades, too many children failed by too many people.
And it highlights the so called 'Jersey way'.
And yes, the report warns that some children in our care 'may still be at risk'.
I will not rest until we have done all that we can do to change that.
I accept every recommendation and pledge to build a new culture: one which puts children first every time.
Where one child failed is one too many, one which is open to all ideas and expertise, wherever they come from.
While the Inquiry has been working we have not stopped.
We have made additional resources available, embarked on a major programme of service improvement, and enhanced our ability to work together across different services.
We know we still need to do much more. We need to do better – and we will.
People have been let down, and I am sorry for that. Children should never have been abused; they should not have been failed, but they were.
Now our priority is to take action to help ensure that no child suffers such abuse in future.