Slater and Gordon specialist Child Abuse Team have been working to achieve justice for the victims of Haut de La Garenne since 2008.
As the Committee of Inquiry opens, a member of Slater and Gordon's specialist Abuse Team gives their thoughts on the Inquiry:
"At the time the Committee of Inquiry was first contemplated no-one could have envisaged the child abuse scandals that would unfold, one after the other, including Savile, Hall, & Harris.
The general public have been horrified by the accounts of immortality and the ability of offenders to 'get away with it' whether real or otherwise. Unprecedented Inquiries are now underway in the UK and it's clear that over the coming months there will be much anguish, and soul searching. Awkward questions will be asked and answers sought. This Inquiry in many ways has the opportunity to show the way, and to shine a light in the deepest recesses of child abuse in Jersey.
The Haut de La Garenne story, if I can describe it as such, when it came to light exposed depravity, shame, and tragedy. The victims of abuse felt they were forgotten and somehow unworthy of justice. The exposure of what occurred in Haut de La Garenne and elsewhere in Jersey brought into sharp focus how vulnerable children were let down in the worse possible way. Some of the accounts of what was experienced, seemed to come straight out of a Dickens novel, and not the latter years of the twentieth century.
Belated justice arrived in the redress scheme, but this is only part of the story, and many victims of abuse may not have sought compensation. For many there is a remaining sense of betrayal and justice denied. It's considered by many that their “abusers” have escaped justice and that the “system” was in some ways complicit in allowing this.
Furthermore, that staff entrusted with the care of children did not report abuse and if true the victims want to know why? This running sore needs to be examined by the Committee of Inquiry which is in a position to undertake a forensic examination of the underlying evidence and give consideration not just to these very direct questions, but to the bigger picture, and to search for themes, patterns, broken systems and cultures.
For this mission to be effective it's vital that the police officers who worked on Operation Rectangle give evidence and that all the evidential material is made available. Further that those who made decisions in relation to prosecutions do so too. Any deviation from this necessity will I fear hamper the Committee of Inquiry investigation.
Some of the abuse victims are of the opinion that the Committee of Inquiry is simply too little too late.
We must not forget that many have had to give evidence in criminal proceedings, and most will have been interviewed by the police, and do not want understandably to relive their experiences yet again.
For the Committee of Inquiry to be effective it has to be hoped that victims will agree to assist it because this is the last chance to fully expose the horrors they suffered, and because we need to ensure that the truth is heard. This is the only way that lessons can be thoroughly learned for the future. The victims are owed that".
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