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Greenfields: Still Below Standard

Another unannounced inspection of Jersey's secure children's facility has found that standards still aren't being met in several areas.

An Improvement Notice was issued to the government in March, highlighting eight areas for improvement at Greenfields. Six of them are incomplete.

It was the second such notice to be issued by the care regulator in four months.  There had been a previous inspection in November 2021.

The Jersey Care Commission inspection in March 2022 found serious failings with the likes of staffing and the quality of facilities.

It set deadlines for its recommendations to be implemented - the final one being 25 April - and threatened to refer the Government of Jersey to the Attorney General with a view to potential prosecution.

A follow-up inspection in late April has found that while plans are in place, progress has been made, and assurances have been given, they have yet to result in 'tangible improvements.'

The number of full-time staff has since increased from 13 to 18, but the team is still incomplete, which the Commission warns may cause more stress to the system if more young people are admitted.

There are still damaged windows and damage in communal and bedroom areas, which is stopping some rooms from being used and would result in young people having to move off-island if a court order was made.

Recent building work found that the sprinkler system hadn't been connected to the water supply. Despite it being fixed, the Commission says it's of concern that regular checks had not identified this issue.

The Jersey Care Commission says it's concerned that not enough progress has been made to address serious failings at the secure home.

"The eight areas in the Improvement Notice were the focus of this inspection, and whilst notable progress had been made, it was concerning to note that insufficient progress had been made to address all the areas for improvement. 

...The Registered Provider has not met the Standards in relation to a number of areas. There are plans in place, and assurances provided, however they have not yet resulted in tangible improvements."

You can read the latest inspection report on the Jersey Care Commission's website.

Channel 103 has asked the JCC for an interview on its most recent findings, and asked the government for its response to the April inspection report.

“I welcome the latest inspection report the Jersey Care Commission and thank them for highlighting the significant work underway to improve Greenfields.

Following the March inspection, the outgoing Children and Education Ministrer, Deputy Scott Wickenden said the notice was being taken very seriously and the safety of young people in the government's care was paramount.

"I am determined to ensure officers in CYPES, and in partner agencies, play their full and active part and meet their responsibilities to deliver multi-disciplinary and integrated support to the highest standards for all young people remanded, sentenced and on secure accommodation orders."

Children's Commissioner Deborah McMillan said in response that Ministers had been saying the same things about 'working heard to address the challenges' for the past four years:

"It can't continue. It's just not fair and it's not right. These children are there because they need help and support and it's important that when they're there under the care of the Minister, they get the highest standard of care - not the worst."

Advocacy service Jersey Cares warned 'something has to give' and repeated its called for a Public Ombudsman to independent investigate complaints.

Greenfields was built in 2006 as a secure unit to house children and young people detained under the youth justice system.

The Jersey Care Inquiry panel recommended the building be demolished. They called the secure unit 'entirely unsuitable' and asked for it to be replaced with 'small homely units'.

It was announced in 2020 that it would be 'redesigned and redeveloped' instead.

An independent review concluded that it is safe as long as a 2:1 staffing ratio is maintained.

Another independent review, this time carried out by the Independent Children's Home Association, then concluded a year later that it should be closed as a secure unit and be converted into a resource centre for families and young people in crisis to get help and support.

The government decided against that. Mark Owers, the government's Director for Safeguarding and Care, told Channel 103 in May 2021 that some children will have such pronounced needs that they'll need a safe and secure environment to thrive.

Mr. Owers resigned on 5 April and said he would be working his three-month notice period.

When asked to confirm if that remains the case, a Government of Jersey spokesperson says it doesn't comment on individual employees' circumstances, beyond the statement already made.

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