Page last updated at 23:04 GMT, Friday, 7 March 2008

Dog smells blood at Jersey home

Concrete bath at Haut de la Garenne
The police dogs found two spots of blood in a concrete bath

Police sniffer dogs have detected traces of blood at the former children's home in Jersey at the centre of a child abuse investigation.

The dogs found two spots of blood on a concrete bath in an underground chamber at Haut de la Garenne, in St Martin.

The BBC's Robert Hall said the traces were found to be human blood and police hope they can extract a DNA profile.

Police say 100 people claim to have been abused at the home, where part of a child's skull has been found.

BBC correspondent Robert Hall said the police considered the discovery of the blood spots, which were too small to be seen with the naked eye, to be significant as it tallied with witness descriptions of violence and assaults in underground parts of the home.

The blood was analysed locally but will now be sent to the UK for further tests, he added.

Some 25 people are suspected of having taken part in sexual and physical assaults at the home dating back to the 1960s.

A heavy weight has been lifted not only from my shoulders, but from my heart
Letter from alleged victim

Investigators say there are more than 40 suspects in the inquiry overall, and 262 more phone calls relating to allegations of abuse are still being processed.

Jersey's deputy police chief, Lenny Harper, read a letter to journalists which he had received from one alleged victim who had been interviewed.

"Whilst finishing up with you, I did experience a period of an emotional breakdown yet again. I can say now that a heavy weight has been lifted not only from my shoulders, but from my heart," the letter read.

'Slow search'

Mr Harper said it showed how the investigation was affecting those involved.

"This is an indication of the job that our officers are doing and how it is affecting those victims."

Mr Harper said the search of the home was expected to continue at the same "slow, methodical" pace.

If we rushed it we would be in danger of missing evidence that was there
Lenny Harper
Jersey Deputy Police Chief

"We are looking for evidence, and the evidence is not of necessity going to be large or dramatic," he said.

"If we rushed it, we would be in danger of missing evidence that was there."

However, investigators would be "delighted" if they left the home without discovering any further remains of children, he added.

The police investigation, which began covertly in 2006, led to the discovery of part of a child's skull last month in a stairwell at the back of the building.

The remains are thought to date from the early 1980s. Police have not said whether they are male or female.

The children's home closed in 1986 and was later converted into a youth hostel.

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