For the past 2 years or so the people of Jersey have lived with the horrors of the unfolding story of Haut de la Garenne and related matters. We, on the other hand, the so called “victims of historic child abuse” have lived with the horrors for decades.
We are a group of people only because we all share a similar dreadful experience. We were all innocent children but we are as different from one another as any other people in society. We all had our own individual characters, ambitions and abilities.
Some of us have survived our experience better than others. Some have found happiness with our own families but some have found personal relationships impossible to achieve. Others sadly have succumbed to despair. But, we were all damaged in some way as a result of the abuse that we suffered whilst in the care of the States of Jersey.
When the States of Jersey Police announced 2 years ago that investigations were being commenced into child abuse allegations at various care homes, we responded with some reluctance to the call to come forward with our testimonies.
Many of us have tried to make complaints to officials about our abuse in the past, but have not been believed or have been further humiliated or worse. To re-live the experiences of our childhood abuse, even amongst family and friends, is an extremely stressful experience and it is not something that we undertake with any enthusiasm.
Nevertheless, we were given every assurance by Lenny Harper and his Police team that our experiences would be treated seriously and would be properly investigated and so far as we are aware, the investigations by Lenny Harper and his team were carried out with care and sympathetically.
We had no reason at all to believe that the Jersey Police were not managing our cases in a professional manner. We were at all times kept informed of the progress of our individual cases and we were led to believe that those who had abused us would be prosecuted where ever possible. We had no complaints about our treatment by the States of Jersey Police whilst Lenny Harper was in charge of the investigations.
However, since Lenny Harper retired, we have found that the States of Jersey Police have consistently failed to communicate directly with us, or to keep us informed of progress on our individual cases or the investigation in general.
On the contrary, we have repeatedly discovered through the media that the standards of Police conduct are hotly disputed; that there are allegations of incompetence and malpractice and such information has not been the result of casual rumour, but the deliberate outpourings of the most Senior Police Officers themselves. And most of us have learned, by the same means that more and more cases have been abandoned and that now, only one or two prosecutions only might yet be initiated, but we do not know which these might be, if any. There have only been three cases taken to Court to date, all of which came back with a guilty verdict and all as a result of the work carried out by Lenny Harper and his team.
During the past 2 years we have had the most private and painful details of our lives broadcast world-wide. These details have been discussed, analysed, argued and fought over, in public, by police officers, politicians, lawyers, journalists and every Tom, Dick or Harry. Our emotions have been mangled. Our dignity stripped bare and our reputations and motivations called into question.
We did not and do not deserve such treatment.
During the past two weeks the public of Jersey has been exposed to a barrage of information via the Jersey media from, and interviews with, retiring police officer Gradwell which has totally rubbished the credibility of the entire investigation carried out by Lenny Harper and his team. In addition, the public have been told that the enormous expenditure is not justified.
All this has taken place in an Island where the Chief of Police is suspended from duty for reasons which have not been made public and our Political and Judicial heads seem to take every opportunity to discredit us, our complaints or the manner in which these have been dealt with. Yet, nobody made any official attempt to prior warn us that these things were likely to happen or that our cases might have been handled with such incompetence. Nobody has offered us even the hint of an apology that such things have been allowed to happen. They should all hang their heads in shame.
Once again, we who were abused as children and at every turn when we sought help have been treated with contempt by the Jersey Police and other island authorities. We have been humiliated yet again and are now presented in the public mind as the cause of many problems whereas we are, in fact the totally innocent victims.
Now, the investigation is in disarray. But our lives are more damaged than they were 2 years ago because we have dared to trust in the Jersey Judicial system and to cooperate with the Jersey Police, we are being abused all over again.
We are reluctant to offer any public statement on these matters because every word that is uttered only adds to our grief and the discontent among our families and friends. We are also aware that enquiries still continue and we do not want to say anything that could harm these cases.
But we want the public of Jersey to understand that we did not wish for any of these things to happen. We have only sought to achieve justice for the wrongs committed against us when we were children whist in the care of the States of Jersey and we have been let down very, very badly, all over again.
May God forgive you.