A report has described life for many children in care homes in Wales across three decades as “little short of a living nightmare”.
The Jillings Report commissioned by Clwyd County Council looks at evidence and allegations of child abuse between 1974 and 1995.
The report confirms that “extensive and widespread abuse has occurred within Clwyd residential establishments for children and young people”.
This abuse had long term effects. The report adds, “At least 12 young people are dead.”
The Jillings report was completed in 1996 but wasn’t published.
The council’s insurers warned that publication could lead to costly compensation claims. But public pressure has forced a heavily edited version to be made public.
It reveals that a second inquiry into abuse also went unpublished— the Cartrefle report into the Cartrefle children’s home.
The Jillings report quotes a solicitor’s letter detailing insurers’ “concerns” about publication of the Cartrefle report “to the public at large”.
The Jillings report says that any constraint on publishing the Cartrefle report today “stems from the position which exists between Clwyd County Council and its insurers.”
The Jillings report said the police and social services posed “constraining factors” that “limited” the investigations.
“There still remain substantial gaps in our knowledge regarding data from the North Wales Police which we believe could have assisted us,” the report said. And it was also unclear about which social services files could be accessed.
The report confirms that people other than those employed in care homes took part in the organised abuse of children.
David Gillison was employed by Clwyd Social Services as a social worker. He was later convicted of sexual offences against young people. The offences were committed when he was employed as a social worker.
One boy described how he had visited Gillison’s house several times to see a man called “Bill”. The report describes how this wasn’t a “one-off event” and showed evidence of what today would be called grooming.
Many victims describe being taken to be abused by others. An internal Clwyd council report, again unpublished, described “numerous claims that senior figures including the police and political figures might have been involved in the abuse”.
It was “common practice” for staff at the Bryn Estyn home to take children home at weekends.
Deputy head Peter Howarth would invite some boys to his flat late at night. The report found “general concern”
about this among staff. When boys ran away they were “invariably returned, often after police intervention”.
Seven care workers were convicted of abuse in 1991 over allegations centring on Bryn Estyn.
The report notes “local connections between police and Bryn Estyn staff, and shared recreational activities such as golf and rugby”.
It says this meant “making allegations of abuse against colleagues was fraught with difficulty”.
Operation Pallial is reviewing previous police investigations into abuse. It isn’t clear whether this, like the Jillings report, will leave many questions unanswered.
The Jillings report raises the possibility of links between abusers—but says it doesn’t have the “necessary powers” to investigate them.
It says there have been suggestions that “public figures may have been involved in the abuse of young people in Clwyd”. But again, it says it had “neither the authority or the resources” to investigate the claims.
One of the most pressing questions comes from a victim: “How on earth can the Social Services, the authority, whoever it was—how can they just let these things happen?
“How can they do it for so long to so many people and get away with it?”