Jasmine Butler reviews the Jillings Report and North Wales child abuse claims
The Jillings Report details allegations of extensive abuse in care homes across North Wales. Whilst the disclosure was welcomed by many, criticism has been made of the fact that it is heavily redacted. This means that relevant names have been deleted to protect their identity.
The abuse of children in care homes across North Wales came to light after some of the young victims described horrific cases of abuse to a manager in a neighbouring care home. She raised her concerns with both the Council and the Police, but both were quick to dismiss the claims. She tirelessly campaigned to voice her concerns and this resulted in her speaking out to the media. This in turn sparked inquiries into the abuse.
Clwyd County Council eventually commissioned the Jillings report. The report uncovered extensive abuse ranging from acts of violence to sexual abuse and rape. The report was finalised in 1996, but only became public in July 2013 following a Freedom of Information request by the BBC.
The report describes how the children would run away to escape the abuse only to be found and returned to the care of their abusers, despite the children informing the authorities what was taking place. At some points the panel, led by social services chief John Jillings, considered ending the investigation as it soon became apparent that much important information had been intentionally destroyed. Some social services employees at the time refused to be interviewed and many boxes of information were not made available to the panel.
The reported abuse has unsurprisingly had devastating effects on the children placed in the care of these homes. Some of the victims are now battling alcohol and substance abuse. The saddest revelation from the report is that twelve men have died due to unnatural causes, all of whom were believed to have suffered abuse whilst at the care homes featured in the report. Some of these deaths occurred around the time of the police investigation and the criminal trials of the men who perpetrated the abuse. Many of these victims suffered the trauma of having to relive their experiences in order to provide statements or give evidence.
One of the victims who spoke out stated;
“Bryn Estyn wasn’t fit for children. It has made my life since leaving a complete misery. I spent some time in hospital because of suicide attempts.”
The report described the homes as having adopted “brutal, abusive regimes.”
The report was kept hidden away due to fears that it would result in large numbers of compensation claims and that the Council’s insurance may have become invalidated. To date 130 compensation claims for abuse have been made. Slee Blackwell Solicitors are currently acting for a number of North Wales child abuse victims. It is believed there are many more victims who have yet to come forward.
The chair of the Council’s social services committee, has commented:
“Because it was suppressed, the lessons of the Jillings report were not learned. It was the exchange of financial safety for the safety of real people. It was one of the most shameful parts of recent history.”
Whilst the Jillings Report highlights historic abuse, the lessons to be learnt are still very relevant. More recently we have seen the case involving the Rochdale sex ring in which social services were alerted to some of the victim’s allegations and failed to involve the police. Their failure to act enabled the abuse to continue until the police were finally informed.
A new independent police investigation into North Wales child abuse, Operation Pallial, and a review of the independent inquiry into the abuse known as the Waterhouse Inquiry, are on-going.
Lawyers in our specialist sex abuse team commented:
“The abuse that occurred in these state run homes is truly shocking. It is deeply saddening to think that the abuse was reported but never acted upon by the authorities for fear of the victims seeking deserved recompense for their trauma. We are currently dealing with a number of North Wales child abuse claims and would urge anyone who has any information regarding any of the care homes to contact us as their evidence could be crucial.”
If you have been affected by the abuse in North Wales or suffered abuse whilst in the care of a local authority then please call our Freephone Helpline on 0808 139 1590 and speak in total confidence to one of our specialist team of abuse lawyers, here to help you.
Alternatively you can visit our dedicated abuse website at www.abusecompensation.co.uk