Jersey police chief expects abuse case to take years

IT could be years before the Jersey children's home case is wound up, according to the former Lothian and Borders officer heading the island's police force.

Graham Power, deputy chief constable in Edinburgh until 1998, said the scandal at the former Haut de la Garenne home was the biggest case of his career.

The chief officer of the States of Jersey Police said he was relying on the "invaluable" experience gained during his time in the Capital for the massive investigation.

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Since the discovery of a human skull at the home last week, more than 160 people have come forward to claim they were abused there. Mr Power, who moved to Jersey in 2000, said that although the force had already made a number of "significant finds", there would be no quick conclusion to the investigation.

Speaking exclusively to the Evening News, Mr Power said: "This is easily the biggest case I've ever been involved in and it's the largest criminal investigation the island has ever seen.

"It's an unusually large case, so we have had to draft in around 30 officers from elsewhere in the UK to help with our inquiries.

"The level of public and media interest in the case has been unprecedented.

"The on-site investigations will take months, and it's likely that it will be years before the whole case is concluded."

The child abuse investigation the latest in a number of high-profile incidents Mr Power, 60. has dealt with. He oversaw the investigation into the biggest controversy in Lothian and Borders police history, dubbed "Fettesgate", as well as acting as the second-in-command for the government's police watchdog.

Mr Power joined Lothian and Borders in 1991 and, soon after, news of

Fettesgate broke. It involved a break-in at the force headquarters in 1992 by a police informant involved in the Edinburgh gay scene. Dozens of secret files on undercover operations and criminals were taken.

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Mr Power, then the new assistant chief constable, liaised with the Lord Advocate's inquiry into the affair and, later, implemented changes to integrate the CID with the rest of the force.

Mr Power said: "All of my command skills were learned during my service in Scotland and it was a very useful and valuable grounding for what I'm doing now.

"With the Fettesgate case, I had to make some very hard decisions. The experience of a case like that has helped me greatly with the current scenario in Jersey.

"I'm having to try to ensure that the best people are brought in to help with this case, as well as dealing with the political and legal issues that it poses for the island. I've also got to ensure that the rest of our day-to-day work in Jersey continues. It may not be perceived as being as sexy a job as leading the searches on site, but it's just as necessary."


• Lothian & Borders Police website