On 10 December last year St Helena Government welcomed publication of the Wass Inquiry Report and accepted the report’s recommendations. The Inquiry received SHG’s full support and cooperation and this commitment equally applies to implementation of the report’s recommendations, many of which are already well in hand.
The arrival to the Governor’s Office in early February of Ginny Ferson, Deputy Governor of Bermuda, further demonstrates SHG’s and FCO’s shared determination to deliver the Wass recommendations as comprehensively and rapidly as possible. Ginny will update Ministers and lead on the UK Government’s report to Parliament later in the year.
It is the case that significant progress has been made in safeguarding on St Helena over recent years and months, including the creation of a new dedicated Safeguarding Directorate, improved care facilities, extra specialist staff, and better training for those working with children. All of this is bringing clear results in case management, protection, investigations and successful prosecutions.
But whilst this important work was underway here before the Inquiry was established and has been carried out since the Inquiry team left the Island – that does not in any way diminish SHG’s acceptance of the Inquiry’s recommendations and agreement that there is clearly more to be done. SHG has now studied the report’s findings in detail and has developed a plan of action and timetable, working closely with all stakeholders. This action plan will be placed on the SHG website next week.
There is a wide range of recommendations in the Wass Inquiry Report, covering Safeguarding, Social Services, Governance, the Police, Healthcare, Recruitment, HR practices, Training and Education. Some of these recommendations are major, some more detailed, and some have already been delivered. But for all of those that are yet to be implemented, an individual action plan is already in place, against an individual timetable, and work is now underway.
SHG will now provide regular implementation updates – against specific recommendations – both to the public and to FCO.
In conclusion, SHG and the UK Government will continue to take any accusations of abuse extremely seriously and are committed to ensuring that children and the vulnerable are heard and protected on St Helena. SHG will strive for further safeguarding improvements on St Helena, including, and beyond, the scope of the recommendations of the Wass Inquiry.
The Wass Inquiry Report and Ministerial Statement can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/484129/51735_Wass_Inquiry_Web_Accessible_PDF.pdf And hard copies can be viewed at the Public Library, the Human Rights Office and the Public Solicitor’s Office.
12 January 2016