Saturday, 19 April 2008

The Greenfields Centre - the culture

This blog is about the culture , as I saw it, at the Greenfields centre when I arrived.

When I arrived at Greenfields in August 2006 the new £5.5million unit was not quite finished so I worked in the old building until October 8th.

The old building was not fit for purpose, it had inadequate facilities, security and resources. The States of Jersey have publicly stated that they understood that the old building was not fit for purpose and that was why the new building was commissioned.

On the face of it this might seem like a rational explanation. What you don’t read in the media, well not the JEP anyway, is the other side of the story.

My concern about this seemingly rational explanation is this. On 23rd May 2008 during the meeting where he sacked me, Phil Dennett, claimed that the reason why the Grandprix system was used was because the old buildings security was not adequate. The sheer audacity of this statement still concerns me to this day. Phil Dennett claimed that measures (the grandprix system) had to be in place to keep the young people safe and prevent them from absconding.

My question is this, why did you need to place young people in solitary confinement upon admission to the building for 24 hours? Why did you need to have a predetermined length of time in solitary confinement for bad behaviour (See ‘Pits’ section of Grandprix document in my previous blog)? I can only assume that the whole regime was designed purely to instill a sense of ‘behave or you know what’s coming’ into the young people to ensure complaince. Perhaps this is what Phil Dennett meant when he said that it had to be used to keep them safe?

My view is this. I believe that there were a number of other options available to them which did not require the use of solitary confinement, unless absolutely needed and for as short a period as possible.

What was needed was more money; more money for staff, for training and for extra resources. This subject is perhaps better for another day but let me leave you with this thought. Phil Dennett was quoted in the JEP last year saying that it costs £50,000 per child per year to stay in the Greenfields centre. In the UK the average cost per child in a secure children’s home is £200,000 per year.

That is quadruple the investment that the States of Jersey put into their most vulnerable and needy young people – perhaps this would evidence the link in relation to recidivism rates for young offenders in Jersey and the high occupancy levels at La Moye’s YOI.

That said, back to the subject of further options to the grandprix system. One choice would have been to spend some money on securing the building further, as an interim measure a few years ago so that young people were not subjected to institutionalised abuse in the guide of a Grandprix system?

I am sure that the £5.5 million needed for the new building could have been used better. Perhaps reducing the size of the sports area by 200% (still leaving it big enough for one full size badminton court and room to watch) could have saved them 1% of the new budget.

That 1% would have given them £55,000 to make the old building a little more fit for purpose and more importantly it would have prevented numerous young people being held unlawfully in solitary confinement for years. The fact that the new building would not have had three badminton courts (like it does now) surely would not have been too problematic for the average occupancy of less than 2 children in residence that it has witnessed since it opened in October 2006.

Who is to blame for all this?

There are many facets to this question.

Was the person who introduced the system responsible? If this is true then Joe Kennedy is to blame.

Was the jersey child protection system to blame? If this is true then all of the members of the Jersey Child Protection Committee were to blame. This would also include Marnie Baudains. Mike Pollard, Mario Lundy, Tony Le Sueur, Phil Dennett, Linda Dodds and Stuart Syvret - the senior figures who have responsibility for vulnerable children.

Were the staff who worked at Greenfields to blame? If this is true then they must all be held responsible.

My view, on the face of it would have been to say that the responsibility is shared amongst them all.

However, I have learnt many things since my ordeal began back in October 2006 and this changes my view of who is responsible and who should be held to account.

I have heard people make judgments of the staff who work at Greenfields and this concerns me greatly - I would like to explain why.

To give an example, when I left the building for the last time in January 2007 I went to the Doctors to get signed off work, and to submit my serious concerns complaint (whistleblowing complaint) as I could no longer face my manager and the stress of working with him or ‘his way’ of working.

That night I received one text messages and two phone calls. I still have the text message. I saved it in my phone, not to disclose, but to remind me of the culture of fear that is so prevalent amongst the staff group in Greenfields.

The text reads,

"Call me at home on ****** and then delete this"

The message and the two phone calls, with the numbers withheld, were from staff at the Greenfields Centre. Why you might ask was there so much secrecy and fear?

In my view, the reason for the fear and subsequent compliance by the young people was due to the Grandprix system. The same fear and subsequent comp;iance of the staff was due to the history of watching others speaking out and repeatedly living to regret it. Staff who may have challenged the status quo, the management or the systems were left wishing they had kept quiet.

What happened to them, they were bullied, they were ostracized, they were excluded, they were made to regret it.

Ultimately, they then watched the same thing happen to me. My experience will have done one thing - it will have cemented that fear further and until something is done to change the culture, further potential inadequacies and errors within the service will remain undetected.

It is this culture that I want to change, it is not just to confined to Greenfields and the residential service it is widespread across the States of Jersey civil service, not in all departments and teams but in too many of them.

Anyway, I digress. Want I want to make clear to readers is that whilst they may still hold the view that the staff are somewhat to blame I hope that I have allowed you to understand that it is not that simple.

I for one do not hold the staff to blame. They do a job that is not highly paid, is very demanding and stressful and they do this to the best of their ability. Furthermore, the training that they are given is facilitated by the very people who ARE responsible for the existence of the Grandprix system, the senior civil servants.

This leads me on to Stuart Syvret. I wish to make it clear that my comments are will be in relation to what I have known of Stuart and not about his political stance - not that I disagree with it, I just want to keep this story away from politics.

Its 3am so I will continue this tomorrow night – also this subject deserves a blog of it’s own!

Reply to comments

Sorry for the delay in posting a new blog. I have had no internet access for the past 3 days so I will try and make up for it in the coming days and continue with my story.

Tonight though I want to respond to some of the comments left and attempt to answer the questions asked of me.

I have not published all of the comments because of potential libellous claims. If you have posted a comment which I have not published perhaps you can take out any names of individuals and then I will publish them in full as they made very interesting reading and would be great to share with other readers.


Who knows any current or previous civil servants?
Comments have been made about other civil servants who have perhaps come and gone, and those that are still suffering whilst working for the States of Jersey. Comments have also made reference to fears of speaking out – I know how you feel, I learned the hard way! As with my previous blog I would like to make it clear that I know there are hundreds of civil servants who are happy working for the States of Jersey. My issue is not to simply criticise the States of Jersey, it is to raise awareness and prevent people senior civil servants from using and abusing their positions of power to the detriment of others. The States of Jersey need to ensure that they have the necessary safeguarding systems in place to stop this being able to go on undetected.

For those of you who do not feel that you can reply to this blog, or speak out in another way through your own fear of reprisal, but would still like to speak with me then I have set up an email account which only I know the password. I can assure you that any information will remain confidential and I will never publish anything which is sent to me without the express permission of the author.

The email address is –

Who is the Pinball?
I don’t think I can answer this question as it is an allegation against a senior civil servant. I have no proof that they were known as Pinball and therefore it would not be for me to comment futher.

Grandprix System – Did senior managers know about it?
Yes, senior managers did know about it. In fact Phil Dennett and Linda Dodds were specifically asked, by Marnie Baudains and Mario Lundy to investigate it in January 2007.

In his report Phil Dennett stated,

“12.7 There are no signs or reports of an abusive regime being operated at either the former or present Greenfields”.

This report, written by Phil Dennett was completed without consultation with a single
person who has ever worked, under modern policies and practices, in a Secure Children’s Home outside of Jersey.

The report written by Linda Dodds actually failed to mention the Grandprix system, not even once. Linda Dodds’ inspection included visiting the Greenfields unit on one occasion and this visit lasted for 25 minutes. Incredible really when you consider that she was being asked to investigate whether vulnerable children were being abused by being locked up in solitary confinement!

Other senior managers were also aware of it.

Was Greenfields inspected?
There are possibly two answers to this question, if you want my view then the answer would be no. No it wasn’t inspected. The reason it would be no is that it was not inspected by anyone who would know how to spot a problem if there was one. The States of Jersey however believe that it was inspected,

How? The Board of Visitors – these were monthly visits by people who were either magistrates and/or good citizens within the local community. Now before I go on, my comments are not against these people as individuals, I am sure they have the best interests of the children at heart. My concern is that they are untrained for this role; do not have up to date knowledge about secure settings and the system was wholly inadequate. This point may be disputed and perhaps it would be good to happen on this blog. My question is this, if the system of inspection at Greenfields was adequate then how did the Grandprix system manage to exist for over 4 years? It is a simple as that.

Was I gagged after the tribunal?
I was not gagged, I was very clear that I would never sign a gagging clause (unless they paid me an obscene amount of money of course!) as I had every intention of exposing the truth about the Grandprix system and the civil servants who I believe are responsible for its existence. Following the employment tribunal I was quiet for a month because I sold my story to the Mail on Sunday, who did not publish it, but it was an exclusive and therefore I had to stay quiet for 30 days. Now I am back and I intend to continue the battles – not for me but for the vulnerable young people in Jersey.

Why did I settle out of court?
I will think further about my answer to this question and come back to you.. I do have some very legitimate reasons, however, some things in the agreement which was reached have not yet been fulfilled and I want to ensure that they do before I write further.

How can I call myself a whistleblower after I agreed I was not?
Just to clarify, what I agreed to was that ‘I wasn’t sacked for whistleblowing’. This doesn’t prevent me from calling myself a whistleblower. I did blow the whistle and I was sacked after I did it. I agreed not to say I sacked for whistleblowing. I have never claimed this; the media did. The reason I never claimed I was sacked for whistleblowing is simple – there is no law in Jersey to substantiate such a claim being made so it was pointless.

It was Simon Bellwood who initiated the settlement?
On 12th March, day 3 of the tribunal, my advocate (Jersey Solicitor) approached Mike Pollard, representing the States of Jersey and asked him if he was aware that my case had made the editorial in the Times newspaper the previous day. He also asked him if he wanted to continue with the tribunal as they were heading for a big car crash. The States of Jersey decided that they would like to talk further and requested an adjournment from the Chair of the tribunal. The Chair agreed and also informed the States of Jersey that the panel were ‘uneasy’ about the failure to disclose the information that had come to light the previous day. Incidentally, this information was also, in part, what led to the suspension of Joe Kennedy the following morning.

What next?
I will continue my story about my employment tomorrow; I hope I have answered some of your questions here. Please feel free to post further comments and I will endeavour to answer them all as best I can.

I would also like to say thank you for the support shown in your comments, despite not publishing some of them as mentioned earlier they have all been 100% supportive about what I am trying to achieve.