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Government pays out £1.3m to child abuse victims

Government pays out £1.3m to child abuse victims

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Government pays out £1.3m to child abuse victims

Tuesday 25 August 2020


The Government has spent around £1.3million on lump sum payments for islanders who were abused or suffered harm while in care between 1945 and 2005 - less than half of the predicted compensation amount.

The money was paid out under the Redress Scheme, which was launched last July 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.

A total of 176 people applied to the Redress Scheme since it launched in July 2019.

Of that number, 137 have signed settlement offers from Government, which also prevent them from talking about the compensation they have received. 

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Pictured: Amounts offered to former Les Chênes residents.

The scheme was originally due to close to new applications on 31 June, but that deadline was extended until the end of August due to covid-19.

Government officials originally estimated that the scheme – which also allowed for claims of up to £3,000 for therapy to treat the psychological effects of any abuse – would cost up to £6.5million.

This figure, a response to a previous request made under the Freedom of Information Law said, was “based on what is known about number of children in residential care, foster care or Les Chenes.”

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Pictured: Compensation offered to those in a children's home or foster care. 

However, the Government confirmed to Express yesterday - one week ahead of the closing date - that only a fifth of this sum had been paid out so far.

The launch of the scheme last year 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'.

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Pictured: Revelations about Les Chênes came in the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report.

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.

Calling for eligible islanders to apply before the final deadline next week, Children’s Minister Senator Sam Mézec commented: “This scheme recognises that, over a period of many years, the government did not act as it should have to protect children from harm and abuse in foster care and in Les Chênes secure residential unit, as well as residential care. We are sorry that we failed those children and their families. I would urge anyone who feels this may apply to them to contact the Scheme before the end of this month.”

CLICK HERE for more information about the Redress Scheme.

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