Monday, 8 July 2013

Jillings – at last

It is truly shameful that it has taken twenty years to publish the Jillings Report into institutional child abuse in North Wales.

Some of the abuse that the report details dates back nearly forty years.

Of course there are all kinds of human tragedies that lie behind the words of the report. And no doubt justice has been denied to many. But my main concern is what appears to have been an endemic knee-jerk response from all sorts of agencies and individuals; namely that when things go wrong, ranks are closed and the truth is brushed under the carpet.

Can you imagine us tolerating the same sort of thing happening after an air crash? What would the public reaction be if we were told that a report on the safety of a particular plane or airport was not going to be published, for legal reasons. It would sound like something out of the old Soviet Union. It would be intolerable.

We should all be intolerant of secrecy and obfuscation about child protection failings. Without an open culture in which things going wrong, or appearing to go wrong, are reported and investigated, failings in systems will never become public and solutions will never emerge.

Of course that does not mean that individuals have to be identified. There are any number of ways in which individuals can be protected, if the need arises, and people wishing to report institutional abuse, especially the victims, need to know that they will protected personally if that is required.