Thursday, 21 March 2013

Investigating the Deportation

The Independent Review of a Safeguarding Complaint for the Diocese of Winchester doesn't just deal with the Dean and Church matters; there's also a brief mention of the Magistrate's Court, but I think an important one.

How this came about was that the young woman in question seems to have been both distressed and threatening to lash out against the Bishop of Winchester when he was in Jersey:

"Safeguarding Advisor J.F. reported several texts and answerphone messages from her threatening violence against him and intimating plans to disrupt the service he was due to attend. The Bishop of Winchester was staying with Dean R.K. and the Dean, on hearing of these messages, felt them to be of a sufficiently serious nature that they should be reported to the police. A statement was made at the deanery by the Bishop of Winchester on the 26th September 2010. On interview he said that his expectation was that this would enable the police to keep H.G. from disrupting the service that day."

The Bishop had simply the idea that they would monitor the young woman, and make sure she could not disrupt the service. Instead, the situation was dealt with in a very heavy handed way, seen by the Safeguarding Advisor and the writer of the report as "extreme measures".

"Following this H.G. was arrested for breaking a harassment order, brought before the magistrate and as she had no money, was at that time of no fixed abode and appeared mentally distressed, she was remanded in custody. Safeguarding Advisor J.F. records her concern at these extreme measures and worked at setting up care for her with the prison chaplain."

Unfortunately, the situation escalated. The destitute, penniless woman who was mentally distressed, was just shipped out of the Island, apparently being treated without a shred of compassion.

"She is shocked when on 11th October H.G. was bound over and summarily deported from the Island for three years and put on a plane with no-one to meet her, no planned accommodation and no money. J.F. wrote to Bishop Michael, 'Whilst I don't think this is our responsibility in that the court decision and action was not of our making, I do feel we have a basic responsibility, as we would have for anyone, to do all we can to ensure her wellbeing'."

There are two forms of ordering a person to leave the Island - as a condition of a binding over order, and a deportation order - a binding over order is usually recommended by the Magistrate's Court and is an alternative to a prison sentence for someone who may have recently arrived in the Island and has no ties such as a home, family or job.

In this case, the case came up under the Acting Magistrate, Richard Falle. As the public record mentions - "Bound Over: XXX of XXX, was bound over to leave the Island for three years after she admitted harassing a person between 1 June and 25 September".

The writer of the report has this to say on the deportation:

"The decision and manner of H.G.'s deportation requires further investigation. It is clearly a matter of concern that a vulnerable adult in such a distressed state could be removed from Jersey with no thought to her imminent care needs."

"It seems surprising that the complainant against H.G., in this case the Dean of Jersey on behalf of the Church, was not consulted or informed about the decisions taken, or action planned, concerning H.G.'s future. There are no records of communication from R.K. with the Diocese at this time and Bishop Michael later expressed shock and distress that the deportation had occurred."

The former Bishop of Chelmsford, John Gladwin, will lead the forthcoming safeguarding inquiries in Jersey. Let us hope this paragraph is not overlooked, and some consideration is given as to the actions of the Magistrate. We know from the report that the consequences of being shipped off to England meant that the young woman's life increasingly spiraled out of control. In Jersey, at least there were people whom she knew and could trust, like Philip Le Claire of Autism Jersey.

It's not primarily a church matter, but as a matter of social justice, it should not be left out of any investigations. Do we really want a society in which this can happen? Do we just deport people who are a nuisance regardless of how vulnerable they are? It may have been legal to treat her this way, but it does that make it right. It does Jersey no credit at all.


James said...

This is the tip of the iceberg.

The fact is that Jersey frequently resorts to using La Moye in default of any other facility being available - witness the ECHR complaint about the female juvenile being held on an adult wing, Jersey's answer being we have no other place we could put her. I am pretty certain that I've also seen cases reported where a person was in need of a secure mental facility and the only answer was the prison.

Mr Gruchy made an interesting point about binding over to leave: he claims that the only way it can be legal is if the accused agrees to it. Thus the usual line is Agree to go, or we will lock you up, whereupon the Advocate will advise the client to take BOTLI. I'd suggest there are reasons for asking questions about how well the defence Advocate served HG.

TonyTheProf said...

Good points. I would point out that in this instance, the young woman was 29, and not a juvenile.

Unfortunately the public report doesn't mention the defense Advocate's name, only that of Richard Falle. It was his decision nonetheless, and he could have asked for her to be remanded while a proper investigation into her mental state was carried out.

James said...

I would point out that in this instance, the young woman was 29, and not a juvenile

Not disputing that, but the principle remains. A prison is a prison; it is not a secure mental hospital, nor a YOI, and it should not be used as such.

TonyTheProf said...

Totally agree with you.