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£1.8m paid out to child abuse survivors

£1.8m paid out to child abuse survivors

Tuesday 03 August 2021

£1.8m paid out to child abuse survivors


The Government has paid out £1.8m in compensation to islanders who were abused or suffered harm while in care between 1945 and 2005 - less than a third of the predicted amount.

The settlements were paid as part of the Jersey Redress Scheme, which was launched in July 2019 to allow former residents of Les Chênes secure school, children’s homes or foster care to claim between £500 and £70,000 for inappropriate physical treatment, including sexual abuse.

Under the scheme, which was due to end in June 2020 but was extended until August due to covid, the former victims of the care system were also able to claim up to £3,000 for therapy to treat the psychological effects of abuse they have suffered.

However, they had to sign a contract preventing them from talking about the compensation they received.

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Pictured: A total of 215 applications were made as part of the Redress Scheme.

Between July 2019 and August 2020, the scheme received 215 applications. 181 offers were accepted with 34 being rejected according to figures from the Law Officers’ Department Annual Review.

At the time the report was published, two offers had lapsed while another three were either awaiting the return of the agreement or under consideration.

In total, £1.76m was paid out in settlement agreements.

At the time of the scheme's launch, it was expected that £6.5m would be spent on lump-sum compensations “based on what is known about number of children in residential care, foster care or Les Chênes.”

Over £3.7m was set aside for the scheme between 2020 and 2023 in the Government Plan, with the rest of the money expected to come from contingency funding later that year.

Last summer, it emerged that only a fifth of the initial sum - £1.3m - had been paid out to 137 individuals.

Express has asked the Government why it has paid out just a fraction of the scheme's predicted £6.5m cost and is awaiting a reply.

The scheme was administered by a temporary team, consisting of a Legal Adviser and an Assistant Legal Adviser, within the Law Officers’ Department. Legal fees of administering the scheme were £175,000, under 10% of the money paid to applicants.

The Redress Scheme closed to new applications at the end of August 2020 and since then team has now been disbanded and no further costs are being incurred on administration of the scheme.

The Redress Scheme followed a previous scheme, launched in 2012, to provide compensation to people who suffered abuse or harm in Jersey’s residential care system. That scheme was launched before publication of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report which found failings in Les Chênes secure residential unit and government foster case, as well as residential care. 

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Pictured: The Redress Scheme followed a campaign by over 100 former residents of Les Chênes.

The launch of the Redress Scheme came after a high-profile campaign by over 100 former residents of Les Chênes, where children were allegedly beaten, kept from seeing their families and placed in solitary confinement for weeks at a time. 

They were represented by UK lawyer Alan Collins, who threatened to bring legal action against the government if it failed to issue an apology and a compensation scheme to those that had spent time at the ‘secure school'.

Opened in 1979 and running until the 2000s, Les Chênes was supposed to be a residential home for children with a remand function. However, the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report noted that all residents – whether young offenders or not – were, “in effect, serving sentences” there.

Some residents alleged that they were subjected to emotional as well as physical abuse – “beaten black and blue”, the Inquiry was told – including by the manager.

The alleged abuse apparently continued from the 1980s into the 2000s.

One child said they viewed another being held by the neck against the wall by a staff member in 2001, while another who was resident between 2001 and 2003 was said to have been put in a headlock by staff. 

In 2004, another child complained of being left in a ‘secure unit’ – an empty room with a mattress and no toilet – for up to nine months. 

Many said they were too scared to speak out, and faced consequences if they did. Others were simply not believed because Les Chênes was viewed as a ‘children’s prison’, filled with “little villains”, according to the secure school’s own Chair of Governors

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