The Howard League for Penal Reform is expected to make fresh allegations about past abuse of children held in custody in Jersey, including being held in solitary confinement in cold rooms with concrete beds.
The “highly credible” evidence is expected in a report out soon from the League, which visited the island to investigate concerns first raised by UK social worker Simon Bellwood.
Abusive practices alleged
The charity’s report is likely to say that staff and young people alleged the existence of “abusive” practices going back many years. These include being held in isolation with little human contact for long periods.
It is also expected to criticise Jersey’s juvenile custody rate, which is higher than that in England and Wales and other European countries, despite the island’s small population and lack of comparable inner city problems.
Cases cited by the Howard League are understood to include children sent to custody for being found drunk, urinating in a public place and causing “malicious damage”.
Old boys network in Jersey
The report is likely to criticise “old boys’ networks” in the Jersey establishment, claiming this deters people from making complaints. It is expected to recommend a more effective whistleblowing policy, inspection of secure services by an external body such as Ofsted and the establishment of an independent prosecution service.
The findings follow a turbulent year for Jersey where a police investigation into historic child abuse at several institutions – unrelated to Simon Bellwood’s case – is continuing.
Bellwood, who has settled his claim for unfair dismissal, said he hoped the Howard League report would “serve the interests of children rather than the political elite of Jersey”.
Bellwood was sacked from his post as manager at the Greenfields secure unit in Jersey last year after criticising the practice of placing children in solitary confinement. His case, first reported in Community Care, sparked several inquiries including the Howard League investigation this year.
• More on Jersey at: www.communitycare.co.uk/jersey1