Jersey school children 'kept in isolation' at Les Chenes

Children were kept in isolation for extended periods at a Jersey secure school, an inquiry into historical abuse heard.

Peter Waggott, who taught at Les Chenes in the 1990s, said courts used the school to punish children too young for prison.

They could spend months in a collection of cells, he said.

The inquiry is investigating accusations of child abuse in Jersey's care system dating back to 1945.

It has heard from a number of witnesses who said they were held in isolation for extended periods at Les Chenes, a remand centre for young offenders awaiting sentence.

Part of the building was a collection of cells and a classroom known as the secure suite, the hearing was told.

'Locked up'

Mr Waggott said staff had no choice but to comply with court orders which became more common by the year 2000.

Children under 15 could not be given custodial sentences, but he said he "had no doubt courts delayed sentencing to keep young offenders locked up."

He said he believed magistrate Ian Le Marquand - who later became Home Affairs Minister - introduced a court order which prevented some young people from leaving the secure suite.

In the early 90s, he said the cells were so rarely used, one had an electric toy racing car track installed.

But by the the year 2000, the cells were in heavy use, he said.

Chief Minister Ian Gorst has set a deadline of December 2016 for the inquiry to conclude its investigations.

The hearing continues.

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