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Notorious Jersey child home should be demolished: inquiry

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London (AFP)

A former care home on Jersey where children were abused over decades should be demolished, an independent panel recommended Monday, as it warned children remain at risk on the Channel Island.

Hundreds of incidents of sexual, emotional and physical abuse were alleged to have taken place in childcare institutions on Jersey, with more than 300 at the notorious Haut de la Garenne home.

The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry said the home, which was visited by sex abuser Jimmy Savile before it closed in 1986, was a "reminder of an unhappy past". The building, currently a youth hostel, should be demolished.

The inquiry was set up in 2013 following a police investigation into child abuse on the island, which recorded more than 550 alleged offences, and led to seven convictions -- four of them related to Haut de la Garenne.

In its report, the inquiry found widespread failures by the state of Jersey in looking after children going back decades, saying it was an "ineffectual and neglectful substitute parent" for often vulnerable young people.

Worryingly, it found that services were still not up to the necessary standard, saying that "children may still be at risk in Jersey".

From 1945 onwards, children were removed from families for "seemingly inconsequential reasons" -- including for being rude or petty theft -- and up to the late 1980s and early 1990s, some were "effectively abandoned in the care system".

The report cited concerns about the merging of powers between the judiciary and politicians on the island, warning serious issues were ignored and there was fear about speaking out.

"Children in the care system in Jersey have been powerless for decades and it is to our dismay that we so often found that their accounts went unheard or were discounted when they ventured to express their worries," it said.

The inquiry, chaired by senior lawyer Frances Oldham, made eight recommendations, including appointing an independent commissioner for children.

Savile was one of Britain's biggest television stars in the 1970s and 1980s, but revealed after his death in October 2011 at the age of 84 to have been a prolific sexual abuser.

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