Care compensation scheme is ‘better late than never’
A NEW compensation scheme for people who suffered abuse while under the care of the States is ‘better late than never’, a senior lawyer who pushed for it has said.
Earlier this year Alan Collins, who is a sexual abuse compensation specialist for UK law firm Hugh James, threatened the States with legal action if they did not deliver on the redress programme for victims who suffered in care facilities – including those at Les Chênes.
Some of those housed at the secure residential facility alleged that they were kept in solitary confinement for long periods during the 1990s and early 2000s. However, unlike those who suffered abuse in long-term care they have not been able to apply for compensation. Under the new scheme, they will become eligible.
And Mr Collins said that delays in delivering the scheme had caused a great deal of stress and uncertainty for survivors.
‘It is obviously very welcome news and it is better late than never but it took an awful long time to come to fruition and, along the way, many survivors thought they would be let down again because, obviously, some of them have serious trust issues with the States,’ he said.
‘The delays caused a considerable amount of anguish among survivors. However, we are now here and it is very important that Les Chênes was exposed for what it was. What was going on there was not right and proper and there should therefore be recognition and compensation for survivors.
‘Compensation is very important because it allows them to move on and fund things such as education – very often survivors had their education disrupted and are keen to get back into it – and it also helps those with mental health problems get on in life.’
The law firm partner, who has also previously been involved in representing people who suffered abuse at the hands of Jimmy Savile, added that he was confident the States would never have given their commitment to deliver the scheme, had he and survivors not pushed for it.
‘I am 100 per cent certain it would not have happened. It was a team effort and a big part of that was the survivors. If they had not come forward we would never have realised what Les Chênes was all about,’ he said.
‘I had the role of giving a voice to them but we also have to recognise people, such as some of the States Members who referred people to me for representation. If we had not all come together I am not sure it would have happened.’
Mr Collins also said that the States could now not renege on their promise and that both politicians and the public needed to ensure that the issue of abuse continued to be spoken about.
‘We can never stop learning and it is not going to go away – it is one of those horrible subjects that if we put away and ignore then things tend to happen,’ he said.
‘The States of Jersey have now made a public commitment to this and if it did not go ahead I dread to think what would happen. It would be a travesty if it did not happen.’