According to the report, the use of Jersey’s voluntary police force to progress cases undermined complaints of child abuse, neglect and domestic violence as recently as the early 2000s.
The report says that this was despite concerns being raised almost a decade earlier about the role of the honorary police in legal proceedings, in particular the use of Centeniers as prosecutors in the Magistrate’s Court.
‘By the early 1990s, both the States police and the Children’s Services were expressing concern about the role of Centeniers in child abuse cases,’ the report says.
‘One particular Centenier was thought to be unwilling to pursue such cases.
‘Anton Skinner, then the Children’s Officer, wrote to the Bailiff in 1991, expressing concern about the lack of protection of child witnesses in the Magistrate’s Court, caused in his view by the fact that Centeniers, not professional prosecutors, presented the cases.’
It adds that two years later a ‘number of difficulties’ were also flagged up by social worker Marnie Baudains which were ‘well founded’.
The report says: ‘We conclude that the role played by the honorary police and the attitudes of some Centeniers contributed to insufficiently robust approaches to the prosecution of child abuse cases and a consequential lack of confidence by victims and others in the system.’
It adds that an ‘overly informal and lenient view’ was often taken of serious offences, such as child abuse, child neglect and domestic violence, by the honorary police up until the early 2000s.
The report says, however, that problems in the system have been addressed in recent years and highlights that legal professionals are now required to carry out prosecutions.