Care files destroyed to 'make space'

Stock files image Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The inquiry heard files were destroyed in the 1990s with brief summary sheets left in their place

Records of children in Jersey's care system were destroyed in the 1990s to "make space", the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry has heard.

Tony le Sueur, head of children's services since 2004, said he was told destroyed files related to "low-level" cases.

He said summary records he had seen suggested some of the destroyed files related to more serious cases.

People trying to trace personal files had faced difficulties, he said.

Taken into care

Thursday's hearing was intended to provide a legal history of Jersey's care system, but Mr le Sueur outlined wide-ranging record-keeping problems from before World War Two to the present day.

He said colleagues had told him historical files destroyed had been large files, but only related to families requiring "low-level intervention".

Single sheet summaries containing basic case details were left in place of the files.

Some of those suggested the original files related to children who had been taken into care, so were therefore more serious cases, said Mr le Sueur.

Describing the admissions register for the Haut de la Garenne care home, he said it was a substantial book with copy sheets between the pages.

"It would be very difficult for anyone to remove a page because you would notice a gap," said Mr le Sueur.

"Any notion that you could remove one - you could, but there would be a hole in the numbering and it would be very evident and I have certainly never seen that," he said.

Records created by private or voluntary homes may have been sent back to France or the UK, where charities running such homes were based, he added.

Computerised records began in the 1990s but various departments' systems were not connected to each other until about 2004.

The central database is still "very limited", said Mr le Sueur.

The inquiry continues.

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