In his view, If a press conference had not taken place refuting claims of possible child murders at Haut de la Garenne, lawyers representing those accused of child abuse might successfully have claimed that their clients could not get a fair trial.
Speaking last week before he left the force on Friday after deciding that he no longer wanted to be police chief, Mr Warcup said that the actions he took were the right and proper thing to do.
‘I recognise that if I had not taken this action the prosecution of offenders alleged to have been responsible for serious child offences would not have succeeded,’ he said.
In the interview on page 12, Mr Warcup also says that if there had been police authority in the Island when he was raising these concerns with former police chief Graham Power, the situation would not have escalated in the way it did.
‘Serious consideration should be given in Jersey and the UK to how to deal with unfounded allegations made on the internet which could be distressing for those concerned.’ he said.
With 32 years of policing experience behind him, Mr Warcup had been led to expect when he was appointed in the acting post that he would take over from police chief Graham Power on his retirement. ‘I considered it to be a new stage in my career,’ he said, ‘and came to Jersey anticipating that I would be carrying out the job for a number of years.’
Mr Warcup said that even before he took up his post he realised, through reports and comments in the media, that there were concerns about the historical child abuse inquiry. Within a few weeks of arriving in the island he became aware, by speaking to people inside and outside the force, of public concern about the way in which the inquiry was being run.
One of the major problems in intervening was that any criticism of the supervision of the inquiry including the handling of the media by former deputy police chief Lenny Harper, was implied criticism of Mr Power, who was his boss.
Mr Warcup believed that some lurid reports in the national media of possible child murders at Haut de La Garenne could seriously jeopardise the prosecutions for child abuse going to trial A review of the evidence available from the inquiry including items uncovered during the excavation at the former children’s home, led him and the new senior investigating officer, Det Supt Mick Gradwell, to believe that no such crimes had taken place
At that time, some States Members and others were also calling into question the handling of the inquiry. Mr Warcup faced the problem of persuading Mr Power that the public should be informed of the truth, and that the risk of the prosecution cases collapsing had to be reduced.
‘I could have made life easy for myself and turned a blind eye, but because of my values I couldn’t do that,’ he said. ‘In all my years of policing I have never walked away from a difficult situation, but this was one of the most challenging I have faced.’
The Attorney General, William Bailhache, was among those who raised concerns about the police’s media strategy during the inquiry and its possible prejudicial effects on forthcoming prosecutions.
An independent report by the Wiltshire Constabulary seriously criticised Mr Power’s supervision of the inquiry - the biggest policing operation in the island in living memory - and recommended that he should face disciplinary action.
Mr Warcup believes that raising his concerns about the inquiry and staging the press conference to refute claims of child murders were the right and proper things to do. ‘I recognise that if I had not taken this action, the prosecution of offenders alleged to have been responsible for serious child offences would not have succeeded he said.
In Mr Warcup’s view it would have been a travesty if those prosecutions had not gone ahead. ‘Fortunately all the lurid claims were addressed at the police conference, the prosecutions went ahead and justice was gained for a number of victims,’ he said.
With the inquiry ending with just seven convictions for child abuse out of a total of 192 victims being identified during police inquiries, Mr Warcup said he realised that some abuse victims would be disappointed that those who assaulted them had not been prosecuted. ‘The small number of prosecutions reflects similar cases in the UK, where there have also been very few people brought to justice following a major historical child abuse inquiry’ he said.
With Mr Power remaining suspended d until he retired in the summer, Mr Warcup took on the reins of the force during that difficult time.
But after two years of running the force in an acting role, Mr Warcup no longer wanted to be appointed as police chief. He attributes the decision to the uncertainty over whether his appointment as police chief would be confirmed. While that went on. he was unable to buy a house in the island. ‘It was a very upsetting period which was clearly affecting my personal life, he said.
He was taken aback by criticism by some States Members about his involvement in Mr Power's suspension, although he had the full support of Home Affairs Minister Ian be Marquand, who believed he should become police chief.
He added that he respected the right of politicians to challenge public servants and call them to account, but in some cases those people did not have the right of reply he said.
Mr Warcup was the victim of stinging comments on some Internet blogs about his role In Mr Power's suspension. ‘In some public-service roles you must have broad shoulders, but in this case my integrity was being called into question by totally unfounded suggestions and allegations’ he said.
Mr Warcup said that had there been a police authority in the island when he had faced the dilemma about what to do about his concerns over the inquiry the situation could have been prevented from escalating so much.
‘A police authority which has the trust of the public and able to challenge the force over how they are delivering policing to the community would have examined the concerns being raised in some areas’ he said.
Mr Warcup’s role in Mr Power’s suspension came in for some criticism from employment law expert Brian Napier QC in his report on the way It was carried out. Mr Napier said, however, that Mr Warcup had found himself in an extraordinarily difficult situation and was genuinely concerned to do the right thing.
Mr Warcup absolutely rejects Mr Napier’s criticism, saying that he failed to raise issues he mentioned in the report to him during their three hour discussion, and did not make clear in his report exactly what he meant by his criticism.
He counts among his achievements while in the post as working with acting deputy police chief Barry Taylor to introduce an improved system of succession planning and leadership training. There had also been improved efficiency in managing calls from the public, more effective use of resources, and levels of crime had dropped. And public satisfaction of police services, shown in surveys, remained high, he said.
Mr Warcup’s experience of life in Jersey has been far from totally negative, however and he has enjoyed many of the other challenges which his job brought with it.
‘I hope I have left a positive legacy and a platform on which the new police chief can build a force,’ he said. He also has a fondness for the island which he regards as a safe and pleasant place in which to live. Returning with his wife to the northeast of England, he will be seeking a new role outside policing and from time to time, they intend to come back to the island to visit friends they have made here.