Chair of Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry Launches Call for Evidence and Says Probe Aims to Protect Children Yet to Be Born
By Paul Ward
March 24, 2016
SUSAN O'Brien QC says investigation will address seven decades of abuse of children in faith-based organisations, children's homes, foster care, long-term hospital care and boarding schools.
|Susan O'Brien QC is leading the inquiry|
THE inquiry into the abuse of children in care is not just to provide answers for survivors but to protect "some Scottish children yet to be born", its chair said as she launched a call for evidence.
Susan O'Brien QC described the scale of the inquiry as "huge" as it aims to look over seven decades of abuse of children in faith-based organisations, children's homes, foster care, long-term hospital care and boarding schools.
Some elderly and ill witnesses have started giving evidence to the inquiry team but a formal call for evidence was launched in Glasgow on Wednesday.
Those who wish to provide evidence are being asked to make contact by email, post or through a dedicated freephone number - 0800 0929 300 - from March 29.
Sessions will be held in private across the country, with inquiry team members travelling to meet victims.
Public hearings are to begin in November, with the first looking at the current provision of psychological support for abuse survivors in Scotland.
Ms O'Brien said "we simply do not know how many survivors will want to come forward" but wants to hear from as many as possible.
The final report of the inquiry is expected to take four years.
The chair said: "Our priority is to listen to people who were abused when they were children and when they were either in residential or foster care.
"The inquiry will provide an opportunity for public acknowledgement of the suffering of those children and a forum for validation of their experience and testimony. It is intended to create a national public record.
"The people who were abused are entitled to answers. How is it possible that so many institutions were blind to their suffering?
"Where was the protection of the law when they were raped or assaulted? Why did no one in authority listen to them?
"Where lessons can be learned, we will make recommendations for the future. Some children always end up in the care of the state or will live in institutions of one kind or another.
"Our aim must be to make them safe. This inquiry is not just for some survivors of abuse in the past but is also for some Scottish children yet to be born."
Some survivor groups are unhappy with the scope of the inquiry and say there is a lack of justice and reparation.
The In Care Abuse Survivors Scotland group is calling on the government to widen the remit of the inquiry to include institutions such as the Catholic Church.
It claims some organisations that have failed children are being "let off the hook".
Ms O'Brien was joined by inquiry members Michael Lamb, professor of psychology at Cambridge University, and Glenn Houston, chief executive of the regulation ad quality improvement authority in Northern Ireland.
Mr Houston said: "Children have suffered in silence not knowing who to turn to."
"Some adults in a position of trust turned a blind eye there by colluding with perpetrators. This inquiry provides survivors who experience abuse - whether it be physical, sexual or emotional - with an opportunity to speak out."
Those who wish to make contact with the Inquiry can do so either by email, firstname.lastname@example.org , by post, Scottish Child Abuse inquiry, PO Box 24085, Edinburgh EH7 9EA or by telephone from 29 March onwards, 0800 0929 300.