Jillings report: Reaction to its release after 17 years

Published July 8, 2013 by JS2

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John Jillings said there was evidence of “bestial” treatment in the children’s homes

A report into abuse at children’s homes in north Wales which was suppressed for 17 years has been published.

The Jillings report, which was commissioned in 1994 by the former Clwyd County Council, details widespread and long-term abuse at homes in the 1970s and 80s.

The report which predated the Lost in Care inquiry by Sir Ronald Waterhouse was published after a BBC Freedom of Information request.

Here is some of the reaction.

Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Anglesey and Wrexham councils

The six North Wales councils issued a statement saying they recognised that the release of the report may bring distress to those affected.

They said all councils had and would support anyone affected by abuse, and the safeguarding of children and young people was a high priority.

They said very few children were now placed in residential care and when they were, safety, quality of care and individual outcomes were carefully reviewed and monitored.

The councils said since the publication of the Waterhouse report, Lost in Care, significant new statutory legislation and guidance had been implemented for looked after children.

NSPCC

The NSPCC charity said children needed to be given the confidence to speak out about abuse.

The children’s charity said although the Jillings report was commenting on “appalling child protection failures” in the past, it could be commenting on events happening now.

The charity said: “Jillings comments that the interests of children were often sacrificed by the very professionals who should have been looking after them.

“And when the young victims tried to raise the alarm people turned a deaf ear to their pleas for help.

“The same mistakes have been highlighted in recent grooming cases where young girls were abused in sickening ways for many years while those who could and should have helped stood by leaving them to their awful fate.”

Malcolm King, former chair of social services at Clwyd County Council

Councillor Malcolm King: “They were leaning on the county council for us to say as little as possible”

Councillor Malcolm King said the redacted, or edited, parts of the Jillings report had been leaked as part of the campaign for a judicial inquiry into the abuse, and that there were no new things published.

He said back in 1996 the council’s insurers “were leaning on the county council for us to say as little as possible”. He said he was told that if he continued to speak out, insurers said “he should be relieved of his office”.

Mr King said said he and others were expected to “remain silent because, as they said in the report, each new prosecution was a dress rehearsal for more claimants”.

“So not that the truth was being exposed or justice being obtained, but they would feel it in their pockets – how disgusting is that.”

Denis Parry, former leader of Clwyd County Council

Dennis Parry on the “battle” to complete the report

Denis Parry, former leader of the authority which commissioned the Jillings report in the early 1990s, said he was shocked at the scale of the abuse uncovered.

Mr Parry said: “I didn’t realise how bad remand homes were in those days and how the system could shift not just what they call the bad boys and girls, but actually young people who had lost their parents were all put together in systems where they could be preyed upon by the most undesirable people you could ever meet.

“In fact at one time in Bryn Estyn, there were four paedophiles and you cannot believe how they could all get together at that time.

“And, of course, there were the others who were people who used their strength and hitting and bullying.

Keith Gregory, victim of abuse and Wrexham councillor

Councillor Keith Gregory, one of the abuse victims: “Finally we’re being believed”

Keith Gregory welcomed the publication of the report and said he believed survivors of abuse in the north Wales homes would benefit from it.

But he said he wished it had been published sooner.

“If it had come out then it would have helped us a lot. I think it would have protected more children,” said Mr Gregory.

“(We) could have got more people – paedophiles – off the road faster. We don’t know how many people have been harmed since that report which could have (been) stopped.”

He also said that all councillors had responsibilities to act as “corporate councillors”, and children in the homes should have been looked after.

“We were put in care. We had no care, we had no protection,” he said.

“So for Clwyd county councillors, no matter what the excuses were, their loyalty should have been to the children.

“Not an insurance firm, not anything else. It should have been the children first. To vote to get this report pulped and never to be seen again, (it’s) disgusting to be honest.”

Wales children’s commissioner Keith Towler

Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, issued a statement saying his priority was to assist in ensuring the victims of alleged abuse were finally listened to, and that allegations were thoroughly investigated.

He said it was important that the formal structures put in place as part of Operation Pallial and the Macur Review were “robustly pursued so that questions are answered” and lessons learnt.

Operation Pallial is an independent investigation examining claims of historical child abuse at children’s homes in north Wales, while the Macur Review is investigating the terms of the Waterhouse abuse inquiry, which took place between 1996 and 2000.

The statement went on to encourage those with information or evidence to come forward and share their concerns.

Mr Towler said there may be individuals who did not wish to relive their experiences “and we should respect this, but for those who do wish to come forward, we must ensure there is adequate specialist support available to those who want to speak out”.

North Wales police and crime commissioner, Winston Roddick

Mr Roddick said it was impossible to “draw a line under things of this kind”, adding: “All you can do – and what you should do – is learn lessons.”

He said his main message was to encourage victims of sexual abuse to report incidents to police.

“What we must do is to get the message across to the victims of sexual abuse that making a complaint is all important,” he said.

He said people had to be convinced “that the attitudes towards complaints and victims today is quite different to what it was 20 and 30 years ago”.

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