Care Inquiry Citizen’s Panel (FOI)
Care Inquiry Citizen’s Panel (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 27 June 2019.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
Around March 2018, a committee was set up by the States (and mentioned in the Jersey Evening Post) to look at a memorial for the survivors of Haut de la Garenne and child abuse in Jersey care homes.
Have they employed any external consultants from the UK, and if so how many?
What is the cost incurred by the committee (and consultants fees, if any) to date?
Please can I see a redacted list of any emails to Ministers regarding the memorial committee since its inception? Please use the following key words “citizens panel” and “care inquiry legacy memorial”.
In 2017 the Council of Ministers set out their intention in P.108/2017 to convene a Citizens Panel to consider recommendation 8b of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry in P.108/2017. An invitation to tender for the design and delivery of a Citizens Panel was published on the Channel Islands Tender Portal in December 2017. Following an evaluation process, this work was awarded to Contact Consulting (Oxford) Ltd. The Citizens Panel met for the first time in May 2018; the Panel’s recommendations have previously been published in Jersey Citizens Panel 2018 Final Report, available at the following link:
Jersey Citizens Panel 2018 report
The Citizens Panel has not employed any external consultants from the UK. The Department for Strategic Policy, Performance and Population (formerly Community and Constitutional Affairs) has engaged Contact Consulting (Oxford) Ltd to design, deliver and facilitate the Citizens Panel. Two UK based consultants employed by Contact Consulting have carried out this work. A Jersey-based consultant has also been engaged to provide specialised advice and support to the Citizens Panel in conjunction with the memorial element of their legacy recommendations.
The cost of the Citizens Panel process from to the end of May 2019 is £68,406. This sum includes: professional fees, travel expenses, catering, room hire and vouchers given to participants to recognise their time in contributing to the process. The professional fees paid to Contact Consulting (Oxford) Ltd (excluding travel and expenses) to date are: £45,445.
Ministerial involvement with the Citizens Panel process has been light touch but supportive. Government Officers presented two papers to the Council of Ministers relating to the Citizens Panel during 2018. A private meeting was arranged between the Citizens Panel and the Chief Minister in June 2018. Subsequently the Minister for Children and Housing has been regularly briefed about the work of the Panel, having attended one of their sessions in January 2019 and having ministerial oversight for this work.
In light of the above, an auditable search of the emails of the Chief Minister and the Minister for Children and Housing was undertaken for the period 13 May 2018 to 28 May 2019. The keywords ‘citizens panel’ and ‘care inquiry legacy memorial’ were used.
The emails retrieved have been redacted under Article 25 (Personal Information) and Article 35 (Formulation and Development of Policy) of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 (the FOI Law) and are attached.
Emails - J Le Fondre (Redacted)
Draft Engagement Brief v3 (JLef email 1 attachment 1)
Memorial project for survivors of abuse (JLeF email 1 attachment 2) (Redacted)
Emails - S Mezec (Redacted)
Implementing Citizens Panel Recommendations (SM attachment to email 1)(Redacted)
Jersey Children's Day Workshop (Jan 2019) Write Up (SM - attachment to email 3)(Redacted)
Two emails have been removed, as the information within relates to the development of policy and is therefore exempt from release under Article 35 (Formulation and Development of Policy) of the FOI Law.
Article 25 Personal information
(1) Information is absolutely exempt information if it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018.
(2) Information is absolutely exempt information if –
(a) it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is not the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018; and
(b) its supply to a member of the public would contravene any of the data protection principles, as defined in that Law.
Article 35 Formulation and development of policies
Information is qualified exempt information if it relates to the formulation or development of any proposed policy by a public authority.
Article 35 is a qualified exemption, which means that a public interest test is required to be undertaken by the Scheduled Public Authority (SPA). The SPA has reviewed the balancing arguments in relation to public interest favouring release versus public interest favouring withholding.
Although there is a need for transparency, accountability, financial and good decision making by public authorities the emails exempted relate to an ongoing situation and sensitive aspects of the Care Inquiry recommendations. The relevant officers are conscious of the rights of the Citizen’s Panel and their participation in the decision making process relating to the memorial. There is also a strong argument that premature release of certain details could have a real and substantial chilling effect on the willingness of parties to contribute to the project, and therefore on the relevant team of Government of Jersey Officers to implement the recommendations of the Care Inquiry panel.
The Scheduled Public Authority (SPA) – and indeed good government, requires the possible impact of proposed policy to be reviewed, and for Ministers and officials to be able to discuss and test those proposed policies in a comprehensive way. Discussions in relation to the memorial are ongoing and, as noted above, early disclosure of details could inhibit the Citizen’s Panel in their contribution to the project.
Taking into account the various factors, the SPA believes that it is necessary to exempt these emails from release as any public interest is outweighed by the potential damage of release to ongoing policy development.
It should also be noted that once a policy has been completed and the final memorial confirmed, the public interest in withholding information relating to its formation is diminished, however, the use of the exemption can be supported if it preserves sufficient freedom during the formulation phase to explore options without that process being hampered by some expectation of future publication.