JERSEY ESTABLISHMENT’S RESPONSE
TO AN INDEPENDENT POLICE FORCE
FINALLY INVESTIGATING HISTORIC CHILD ABUSE.
Sorry for not posting for a while, it’s been a very busy 10 days or so.
I will recount later this week the details of the various child protection events which have occurred in Jersey since I last posted.
And a fascinating amalgam of elements they have been.
For example, it furnishes us with another opportunity to examine the “performance” of the Jersey media. (Which I never speak to any more, in case you’re wondering why I haven’t had a presence in the local press for a few weeks. Actually, it’s really quite liberating.)
But it just to be going on with, I thought it might interest you to read a letter which I sent to the Jersey Evening Post last week. I wrote the letter in response to what I considered to be some truly quiet extraordinary comments made in The Rag by Mr Ian le Marquand.
Mr le Marquand is a recently retired Magistrate, who plans to seek election as Senator later this year in Jersey’s General election.
He is the archetypal Jersey establishment election candidate. Lawyer, wealthy, “pillar-of-society” – and possessed of a natural assumption to power. And, of course, along with all of that comes the equally traditional baggage. Insular, ignorant, arrogant and completely out of touch with the real world.
For many years, the three relevant departments – Health and Social Services, Education, and Home Affairs, had to continually resist demands from Mr Le Marquand that we make the child custody laws tougher and that, essentially, we run the child secure units as though they were prisons in miniature.
As though, as we now know, the existing practices were not tough enough.
Essentially, Mr Le Marquand wanted the power to sentence children in trouble with the law to lengthy periods of imprisonment. ‘Get the ‘problem’ off the streets’; I think the philosophy could be described as.
However, he and his judicial colleagues alighted on a ruse by which they could dodge the will of the legislators – and do exactly as they pleased.
Because the law permitted children to be held in custody ‘on remand’ – the Magistrates simply placed children on remand for very lengthy periods of time – thus, de facto – ‘sentencing’ children to a term of imprisonment. In some cases, children would eventually be released after weeks or months of this – without charge.
Such practices were almost certainly simply unlawful and a clear abuse of process.
But, in an even more stark example of the judicial apparatus being a component in an inchoate criminal offence, the Magistrates – such as Mr Le Marquand himself – would remand children to places like Greenfields and Les Chennes – where children would be subject to the kind of manifest criminality as described in my last post.
I will describe the legal issues in a later post.
Back to the letter I wrote to The Rag.
To my astonishment, they actually printed most of it. but just to get the full flavour of what I was objecting to, I’ll reproduce the entire letter below.
What was the issue?
Essentially, Mr Le Marquand was objection to the independence of the States of Jersey Police Force – and asserting how the Force should be brought back under political direction.
Yeah – I know; cliché alert!
You couldn’t make it up.
Here’s my letter, which is self-explanatory. Perhaps I should point out that if you live in Jersey you can now get medication free of prescription charges – in case you feel the need to hit the Prozac and Valium after digesting Mr. Le Marquand’s profoundly frightening observations.
Wednesday 23rd July 2008
Letters to the editor
Jersey Evening Post
The comments of Mr. Ian Le Marquand, Advocate, former Magistrate and candidate for the office of Senator, as reported in the JEP Wednesday 23rd July, are amongst the most deeply disturbing comments I have ever heard from an election candidate in Jersey.
I know Jersey grandees – with all their natural presumption to power – live in a strange parallel universe, into which reality rarely intrudes, but Mr Le. Marquand’s comments are shockingly insular and ignorant, even by Jersey establishment standards.
He says: “The issue about oversight of the police is based on a growing concern over a lengthy period of time that the police were increasingly operating as if they were a politically independent organisation. That predates the Haute de la Garenne investigation by about two years. It is a long-standing concern that they are operating without effective political oversight.”
The Police operating as if they were a “politically independent organisation.”?
This will obviously come as a deep shock to Mr. Le Marquand – but police forces are politically independent organisations.
The Police Force does indeed – these days, at least – undertake it’s duties in a manner independent of politics, and of direct political control.
And the problem with that is?
There is a term for political systems that exercise direct political control over police forces. That term is ‘fascism’.
Every police force the length of the nation operates on a politically independent basis. The government sets the laws and sets the policies. The Police then undertake their duties within that framework – operationally independent of political control.
But in Jersey-establishment-world – “independent” police forces are clearly deemed undesirable. Truly, some things are just beyond parody.
So – presumably if Mr. Le Marquand is elected we can look ‘forward’ to a return to days gone by – when Jersey’s Police Force was told politically who they could or couldn’t investigate, who they could or couldn’t charge, which offences they could investigate, which media they could speak to – and which area of policing activity should be set aside – because it might just be too “politically” inconvenient.
It actually speaks volumes about the Jersey establishment, that in the midst of a child abuse atrocity of international scale – their candidates can so blithely, and without apparent embarrassment, speak of a return to the days of political control over the Police Force; an approach which has left this community confronting at least six decades of the most monstrous child abuse – 95% of which has remained concealed and unpunished.
That it is – finally – being exposed today is largely down to two things: the absence of “political” control over the Police Force; and the brave efforts of independently-minded Officers like Lenny Harper.
Many of the victims are no longer with us – having committed suicide over the years. During the last year or so, I have spoken to many, many victims of abuse; people of all ages. The great majority of the survivors have led shattered lives and carry with them to this day the burdens of what they suffered.
For their sakes – I most sincerely hope that Mr. Le Marquand is not elected.
Senator Stuart Syvret.