And Why it Persists.
Mike Pollard: a Case Study.
This is the first of two posts which examine the fact – for it is a fact – that the “culture” amongst Jersey’s civil service – a “culture” which enabled horrifying child abuses to be concealed for decades – remains in existence right to the present day.
I will try and get the second of these two posts up later this evening.
These posts address the question of Mike Pollard – Chief Executive Officer of Jersey Health & Social Services.
A comparative newcomer to Jersey – but, in truth, a man who “went native” with record speed.
In particular – I want to focus upon a letter he wrote to all Jersey H & SS staff, dated 14th September last year, following my removal from Ministerial office on the 11th September.
I reproduce that letter below. Read it – absorb it.
I will publish my reply to it in the second of these two posts.
It is a reply I drafted last year. One which I was never able to deliver – because within hours of me getting the bullet as H & SS Minister, my ability to e-mail all the H & SS group-addresses had been blocked by the States of Jersey.
So this seems a good a time as any to exercise my ‘right of reply’ - now that I have about 18,500 unique site users.
The Jersey establishment like to peddle the notion that all of the terrible child abuse issues we have been coming to terms with – “whilst regrettable” - reflect what took place a long time ago.
“Today – things are very different. Everything in the garden is rosy now; even our poodle – err, sorry – ‘independent expert’, Andrew Williamson says so.”
Just how plausible do we think that claim is? Now that we know it’s not just Haute de la Garren we are considering?
Now that we are aware of gross abuses of children carried out in Jersey right into the 21st century?
When we can read a letter authored by the Chief Executive of Jersey H & SS a matter of months ago – in which, in response to my concerns, he asserts that what he: -
“actually found, without exception, was that every instance and every matter I looked into had been dealt with to the highest possible standard. Never before in my 30 years of practice have I found a service that has got it so right, so well and so often to such a high standard.”?
Claims to the effect that “every thing is just fine with child protection in Jersey today” are - literally - incredible.
We need only read Pollard’s letter to see that sadly – things have changed little. The clowns – the liars – the ethically bankrupt shysters and other assorted con-men who seem to gravitate towards highly paid positions in Jersey, are – even as I write – still trying to conceal failures.
Speaking of which – back to Mike Pollard, present Chief Executive Officer of Jersey Health & Social Services.
There was a time – God it seems an age ago – when I used to think Pollard was OK.
I know, I know – it seems so ridiculous now. But bear in mind that the acting Chief Officer he replaced was one Anton Skinner.
I thought Skinner was crap back then – even without knowing of his predilection for permitting the battery and torture of children to take place for the best part of a decade – whilst not telling the Police.
Amazingly – Skinner remains working in the social care charitable sector in Jersey. Quite what these organisations imagine they are doing in not suspending him – Christ knows.
My moles inform me that Skinner has, of late, been making visits to Pollard’s office on the fourth floor of the H & SS administration building.
No doubt they feel a compelling urge to “get their stories straight and squared” – maintaining the “good”, customary Jersey “Let’s All Stick Together For Mutual Protection” methodology.
You know? The Jersey civil service “culture” which has enabled the concealment of the battery, rape and torture of vulnerable children.
For at least seven decades.
And reproduced below is a recent example of the self-same culture of concealment and mendacity.
As I said – read this letter from Pollard; a missive which was e-mailed to about 2,300 H & SS staff.
If you can – and I know it’s hard – set aside the horror of this episode, just for a few minutes as you read Pollard’s letter.
If you have the philosophical constitution of Samuel Becket – you may be able to laugh out loud at the sheer hubris and folly of it.
Then check out my next post – which will contain the ‘world exclusive’ publication of my hitherto suppressed reply – which I wrote last year.
Here is Pollard’s letter.
Read it and weep.
Health and Social Services Department
Peter Crill House, Gloucester Street
St Helier, Jersey, JE1 3QS
Tel: +44 (0)1534 622285
Fax: +44 (0)1534 622887
To All HSSD Staff : 14 September 2007
Our ref: JMP/LAW
Child Protection Services and our Children's Services More Generally.
On Wednesday last, I wrote to you following the dismissal of Senator Stuart Syvret as the Minister for Health and Social Services, which became effective the previous day.
The Jersey Evening Post reported the dismissal and included in that report was the following statement:
“Members backed Chief Minister Frank Walker's move by a 35 to 15 margin, effectively deciding that his attacks on his own staff, other civil servants and politicians over the recent rows have been unjustified”.
In this letter to you I wish to focus on the 'unjustifiable attacks'. I do know that the Chief Minister and the Chief Executive to the States of Jersey are currently preparing to make a rounded, comprehensive and positive statement about the competence and professionalism of those members of our staff (and staff working in other States Departments and agencies). They will, of course, be sending these resolute messages to the general public of the Island and I expect those powerful messages to be released next week.
It is for me though, to send powerful messages to all of you who work in the Health and Social Services Department.
A letter to all our staff is important because speaking to some of those working in Child Protection Services and our Children's Services more generally, advised me that there has been a great deal of support for them from their colleagues within the Department, who know them and who have trusted them in the past. However, they also tell me that they feel some of our staff in other sectors are not quite sure what has been going on and that they have detected some discomfort when meetings, however informally, have taken place. It is right, therefore, that I fundamentally and categorically make the position clear as far as Child Protection and Children's Services staff are concerned.
In early August I asked Senator Stuart Syvret, the Minister for Health and Social Services, two fundamental and basic questions which go to the heart of this matter. These questions are as follows:
'Do you know of any child who is not receiving a competent service from our Department?'
'Do you have information which you are withholding which, if given to me, would allow me to make the lives of a child or children better?'
Senator Stuart Syvret answered both these questions by saying, clearly, 'no'.
You will also be aware that Senator Stuart Syvret, as Minister, invited people to come forward to him with details of any incident of child abuse or any untoward incident of this nature. As a consequence of his call, he asked me to investigate two alleged incidents. The first concerns the circumstances surrounding the departure of a member of staff. Following my investigation into this matter, the Senator accepted that this had been handled correctly. The second concerns alleged incidents which occurred in the mid -1980s, which of course is over 20 years ago.
Right up to and including the debate last Tuesday, I have been expecting the Senator to give me information about unresolved issues of child abuse or any untoward incident of this nature, but I have received none. The obvious, positive and unequivocal conclusion that we can all draw from this evidence is that the Child Protection and Children's Services have no case to answer. The truth is - as if we did not know it - that these are highly respected, caring professionals who work in one of the most high risk sectors of public service.
In addition to the investigations (referred to above) which Senator Syvret asked me to investigate, you will appreciate also that the Chief Minister and the Chief Executive of the States of Jersey have also asked me to investigate some allegations which were brought to their attention. What I expected to find in undertaking all of this work was that the vast majority of such allegations were groundless and could be easily rebutted. To be perfectly honest though, I did expect - because this is the way that the world usually turns - to find that one or two instances had not been handled as well as they could have been. What I actually found, without exception, was that every instance and every matter I looked into had been dealt with to the highest possible standard. Never before in my 30 years of practice have I found a service that has got it so right, so well and so often to such a high standard.
I trust, therefore, that this letter has put beyond any scintilla of a doubt that the Child Protection and Children's Services operate to a very high standard and have an unblemished record. I will not take kindly to anyone who seeks to make mischief with these hard working staff on these matters.
A great deal will have to be done to rebuild confidence in these services and a number of meetings will be taking place over the next few days. Some of these will involve the Chief Minister and the Chief Executive to the States of Jersey - two very senior people who maintain close contact with me, at least on a daily basis. I do know that of all the complex and important issues on their respective agendas at the moment, the matter of repairing the damage to morale within these services is predominant.
direct dial: +44 (0)1534 622285