Islanders who suffered abuse as children in foster or residential care after 1994 or while at former youth remand facility, Les Chênes, are being offered compensation under a new scheme.
Launched today by the Children and Housing Minister, Senator Sam Mézec, the redress scheme will be open from 1 July and open to applications until 30 June 2020.
Government officials say money has been allocated to the scheme from its 'Central Contingencies' pot following approval from the Treasury Minister, but there are no details as yet on the overall sum.
They added that more information about the format and rules of the scheme would be made available in the coming weeks.
Pictured: Children and Housing Minister, Senator Sam Mézec.
It comes 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 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.
Pictured: Revelations about Les Chênes came in the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report.
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.
Senator Mézec said that he hoped today’s announcement would go some way to addressing what happened.
“The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry told us that our island’s institutions failed children and their families both between 1945 and 1994 and after 1994. We are truly sorry for this failure. This new redress scheme aims to help recognise this failure as well as to support those that have been affected. In the coming weeks I will be able to provide more information about the details of the new redress scheme.”
He added: “I urge anyone who is in distress as a result of this announcement to contact their GP for initial support. Alternatively, if you feel the need to speak to someone urgently at any time of the day call the Samaritans on their Freephone number 116123 and if you feel you are at immediate risk to yourself please go to the Emergency Department at the General Hospital where immediate support can be provided.”
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