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24 September 2014
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Child behind bars

Child abuse - tip of the iceberg?

Child abuse in Jersey

As the spotlight falls on the grisly discoveries at a Jersey children's home we can reveal new allegations of abuse at another home on the island - and claims that the abusers were protected by the very department meant to police them.

Police investigations into alleged child abuse at a former children's home at Haut de la Garenne in Jersey have been the focus of media attention over the last week.

Witnesses have been surfacing with horrific tales of abuse as police conduct the largest criminal inquiry in the island's history.

But there are also question marks over the way the island's government, The States, has handled allegations of child abuse.

Islanders want to know why more wasn't done to protect the most vulnerable people on this small island? And many are asking - has there been a 'cover-up'?

New allegations

In the past week allegations of abuse have come to light regarding not just Haut de la Garenne, but another establishment on the island.

Inside Out can reveal further serious allegations of abuse at the Blanche Pierre children's home.

Today Blanche Pierre is a nursery with no connection to these allegations - but at the time it was run by Jane and Alan Maguire.

We have obtained a confidential report into the children's home which talks of "gross acts of physical and psychological abuse towards children".

Former children's home Blanche Pierre

Blanche Pierre - former home.

The report looks at alleged abuse in the home between 1986 and 1990 when the house was run by Jane Maguire with the help of her husband Alan.

But despite evidence of abuse at the home in the late 80s, Mrs Maguire wasn't finally recommended for dismissal from Jersey social services until 1999.

Inside Out has spoken to five alleged victims of abuse carried out by the Maguires at the home.

All tell similar stories - stories of a brutal regime of sustained physical abuse:

"I was raised in the home from the age of four to eleven. As time progressed it didn’t go according to plan to be honest.  It’s the physical abuse and the mental abuse, quite horrific for a child..." Jean Michel.

"Big Al as they used to call him, Alan Maguire, he’s come back from work, he’s picked up the badminton racket and I’ve seen him whacking my little brother round the back of the legs and he’s broken the badminton racket on my little brothers legs." (anon)

Joyce Symons, who lived next door to the home in the mid-80's, says:

"Alan Maguire was the one who actually inflicted the punishment, Jane just stood by and watched it happen, or held them and he used to push the soap into their mouth and make sure that it all got pushed in, they were hit about the head slapped about the head. 

"I wish I had done something much earlier, then they wouldn’t have suffered like they did."

Blanche Pierre investigation

In 1990 two part-time members of staff alerted the authorities to the Maguire's behaviour - an investigation was carried out.

The Maguires were allowed to "retire" from Blanche Pierre.

Jane Maguire was moved onto another job within social services and still allowed to work with vulnerable people.

Jean Michel says, "That's sick, that's wrong, no one who treated children like that should even be back [working] in the care of children..."

Hands clenched

Victims claim to be left bemused.

Another anonymous former resident says, "It's disgusting - we was told she was sacked and that she would never work with young children or vulnerable people again, she shouldn't ever be out. She should be locked up."

Nearly 10 years later one of the Maguire's victims complained to the police.

They investigated the home, took witness statements and the case even got as far as a magistrates court, but it was abandoned.

Jane Maguire's solicitor says that court proceedings against her were abandoned after an independent Crown Advocate had looked at the case.

Jersey States said in a statement: "A police enquiry into allegations against Alan and Jane Maguire was completed in 1998, but the indictment was withdrawn after committal proceedings because it was considered the case did not pass the evidential test."

The victims say they were told by social services that they would make unreliable witnesses and there was a lack of evidence.

Regime of abuse?

In a confidential report, authored by a senior manager in the States' Health and Social Services department, the full extent of the physical and psychological abuse was uncovered.

It talks of a regime of "physical and psychological abuse" and about "a cruel and uncaring environment".

Jean Michel

Jean Michel - claims of abuse.

It concludes that Mrs Jane Maguire clearly understood her role and responsibilities toward the children in her care.

It also says that she understood that a policy existed which forbade the use of corporal punishment on the children in her care [and] breached this policy by inflicting, allowing and condoning physical punishments, inflicted, allowed or condoned various forms of severe physical abuse… and psychological abuse on the children in her care.

System failures?

Senator Stuart Syvret claims the whole episode is typical of the way abuse complaints are managed in the island - at best too slow and too 'softly softy'.

"It should have gone to the police then, even if it didn’t go to the police they should have been sacked immediately. 

"The notion that they were then just moving them and letting them carry on working in an environment where there are vulnerable people, it’s just extraordinary."

Jersey's Senator Syvret says that action is needed and that the guilty need to be brought to justice.

He also says that the current system of dealing with child abuse on the island should be reviewed.

Syvret argues that there needs to be a greater separation of powers between the island's various legal powers.

"I think it’s a fundamental problem with the system of public administration on Jersey.

Jersey

Jersey - time to review procedures?

"There’s no adequate separation of powers - there’s an healthy overlap between the legislative juror and the judiciary.

"But the departments of the states themselves, the people who work in them and who perhaps ought to be regulating and monitoring each other, they know each other, are friends - they go to each other’s dinner parties and they have a common and shared interest of course in maintaining that the veneer and everything in all the services are working just fine.

"Therefore, whenever anything goes wrong they have a collective interest in wanting to bury it and keep it all hushed up."

Over the last week the police say that 160 victims have contacted them regarding Haut de la Garenne and they are now investigating 40 suspects including members of the establishment and civil service.

Lenny Harper, Deputy Chief Officer of Jersey Police says, "If you’re talking about members of institutions and organisations, well then 'yes',  than by the very nature of the allegations, I think it stands to reason that people who would be seen by some as members of the establishment are subject to investigation.

"It ranges over a long list of institutions."

Meanwhile, the search in the void under Haut de la Garenne is continuing...

With concerns stretching back nearly 40 years and culminating with a criminal inquiry at Haute de la Garenne, what chance is there of fundamental change on the island?

Who to contact...

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.

last updated: 29/02/2008 at 19:33
created: 29/02/2008

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