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Last Updated: Monday, 25 February 2008, 20:06 GMT
Jersey inquiry focuses on cellar
Police searches at Haut de la Garenne
Beneath special tents, police are trying to access a bricked-up cellar

Police in Jersey searching a former children's home where a child's remains were discovered are focusing their attention on a bricked-up cellar.

The remains were detected by a sniffer dog at Haut de la Garenne on Saturday, and six more sites of interest have been identified there by the police.

Police said the search was a "very slow and methodical process" which could take another two weeks.

They are investigating alleged child abuse in Jersey dating back 40 years.

Sniffer dogs

Within Jersey: 0800 169 1173
Outside UK: + 44(0)20 7825 7489

The remains were detected by a sniffer dog through several inches of concrete and their discovery has led to claims of a cover-up.

Since then, a special helpline set up by the NSPCC at the request of the police has received 63 calls from adults claiming to have been abused as children on the island.

So far, 27 of those cases have been referred to the authorities for investigation.

Mr Harper said: "Part of the inquiry will be the fact that a lot of the victims tried to report their assaults but for some reason or another they were not dealt with as they should be.

"We are looking at allegations that a number of agencies didn't deal with things as perhaps they should."

Haut de la Garenne

Former Jersey Health Minister Senator Stuart Syvret, who was sacked from his post last year, has urged anyone who was at Haut de la Garenne to come forward.

Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, Mr Syvret alleged that there had been a "culture of cover-up and concealment" on the island in relation to child abuse.

"These types of cover-ups go up to the very top of Jersey society," he said.

But Jersey's Chief Minister, Senator Frank Walker, said it was "deplorable" that Mr Syvret was seeking to "politicise" the situation.

Deputy Chief Police Officer Harper said the archaeologists and forensic scientists were concentrating on a number of "trenches" at the site where the remains, which include a skull, were found.

Worldwide leads

The information that sparked the excavation had been provided by three sources, he confirmed.

Jersey Police began investigating allegations of abuse in 2006.

Police have identified dozens of possible suspects in connection with the wider inquiry, with detectives following up leads in Europe and as far away as Australia.

The investigation involves several government institutions and organisations in Jersey, with the Haut de la Garenne home and Jersey Sea Cadets the main focus of the inquiry.

Haut de la Garenne
Jersey Police began investigating allegations of abuse in 2006.

It is centred on the abuse of boys and girls aged between 11 and 15, since the 1960s.

The excavation of the home, involving sniffer dogs and ground radar, started on Tuesday.

Police are using two springer spaniels - seven-year-old Eddie, who specialises in detecting human remains and was involved in the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann in Portugal; and Keela, three, who is trained to sniff out traces of blood.

Haut de la Garenne started life in 1867 as the Industrial School, for "young people of the lower classes of society and neglected children".

It is now Jersey's Youth Hostel and featured as a police station in the TV series Bergerac, which was set on the island.

Police say it is vital that any alleged victims still unidentified contact the incident room as soon as possible, on 0800 735 7777. There is also an NSPCC helpline on 0800 169 1173 within Jersey, or + 44(0)20 7825 7489 from outside.

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