Playing 'Ignorance And Apathy Let Abuse Flourish'

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Martin Brunt

March 7, 2008 / Sky

The Jersey child abuse scandal was inevitable, according to the man who was Scotland Yard's top paedophile investigator. 

Care home at Haut de la Garenne

"I don't see Jersey as any different from the UK," Bob McLachlan has told Sky News.

"What's unravelling here is what we've seen all over Britain in the past 20 years, people waking up to a problem that's existed for a long time.

"Jersey is 20 years behind the UK in many things."

Mr McLachlan, 55, has lived in Jersey with his family for 10 years, settling on the island before he retired as the Chief Inspector running the Yard's Paedophilia Squad.

"The most important thing to find out in this investigation is who changed the home's caring environment into a paedophile's paradise," he said.

"One man began it and then made sure that he recruited like-minded individuals who perpetuated what became a culture of abuse."

He does not believe the island's establishment covered up the scandal, rather it was ignorance and apathy that allowed it to flourish.

"Everywhere the police failed to investigate child abuse properly," said the ex-detective.

"It wasn't a proper crime like armed robbery, it was something pushed off to the women's police department."

When he retired in 2002, Mr McLachlan offered his expertise to the island's Health Ministry.

His first letter was ignored, the second given a cursory "thanks, but no thanks".

"I recognised there were opportunities to improve child welfare services here," he explained during breakfast in the Wayside café overlooking St Brelade's Bay.

"They needed bringing up to date and I think subsequent events have borne that out."

Jersey police said this week they had not found any firm evidence that children were murdered at the Haut de la Garenne home.

Mr McLachlan said: "I would not be surprised if children were killed there.

"Kids do die as part of child abuse, they die during abuse and they are killed to stop them revealing abuse."

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