The Social Worker who Tried to Stop Institutionalised Child Abuse.
Oppresed by the Jersey Authorities.
But Still Fighting for the Victims.
Those of you who have been following the Jersey child abuse disaster will know of Simon Bellwood. He is a UK registered Social Worker who was recruited to the island to run the Jersey child secure unit at a time when it was switching from the old Les Chennes building to the new, purpose built, Greenfields building.
Simon was going to run Greenfields under the control of a direct boss, Joe Kennedy; a man who is now, incidentally, suspended from his job.
On taking up the post in Jersey, Simon was appalled to discover that the actual regime used in the child secure units was every bit as bad as the so-called “Pindown” policies which were used by Staffordshire County Council in the 1980’s.
The cruel, barbaric and coercive practices were eventually exposed. A very good enquiry was undertaken by Alan Levy QC and Barbara Kahan.
Their report into the Pindown episode remains the yardstick by which others will be judged.
Recognising that subjecting already damaged and messed-up kids to extended periods of coercive and punitive solitary confinement was illegal, Simon stopped this unlawful practice and adopted a more therapeutic regime.
You can read about his experiences on his blog site, a link to which have placed on the right.
Simon was oppressed and ultimately sacked for his efforts to protect these vulnerable children in the secure units.
I didn’t know Simon at all until he approached me early last year when he drew to my attention the unlawful practices and the way in which he had been oppressed for trying to stop them.
Quite impartially, I investigated his concerns – and rapidly came to the conclusion he was right.
I made it plain to my senior management – people like Mike Pollard – that I didn’t believe the management story – instead I believed Simon.
It was this decision – to side with the whistle-blowers and the victims – that led to my own senior management team engineering my dismissal as Health & Social Services Minister.
To give a brief example of the kind of thing that happened to kids in the secure units, if any of them were challenging or demanding in any way; if they had issues which were causing their behaviour to be difficult or rebellious – rather then helping them – the institutions would simply imprison them in solitary confinement in an area known as “The Pits”.
They would be allowed out for 1 hour’s exercise a day – but alone – not allowed to mix with other children. But even this 1 hour exercise was “at management’s discretion”. This would mean that sometimes they would be confined for days with no exercise.
But the worst aspect of this regime was the length of time children were subjected to this harmful and damaging solitary confinement regime.
Sometimes, if a child was ‘difficult’ the solitary confinement would go on for days – or weeks – or months.
Yes – that’s right – months.
One young man – who has been featured in some of the documentary pieces on the Jersey child abuse disaster – was kept in solitary confinement for two months.
The effect of this upon him was – unsurprisingly – to induce a mental breakdown after 3 to 4 weeks.
The response of the Jersey institution to his emotional collapse?
They sent a “councillor” from the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health “Service” to speak with him.
Once a week.
‘But’, you may ask’ ‘he must have been released from solitary, surely?
He was kept in these conditions for another month.
These are the type of barbarisms – of ethically bankrupt idleness – that characterises the Jersey child “protection” apparatus.
To this day.
And it is this appalling inadequacy we are fighting against.
If you have been finding my blog interesting – please read Simon’s as well.