Historic abuse survivor camps outside Scots police station to campaign for better support

Daily Record [Glasgow, Scotland]

October 1, 2021

By Paul T. Smith

Dave Sharp says Police Scotland and some abuse charities need to have a better understanding of survivors.

A child abuse survivor and campaigner has spent the past five nights camped outside Falkirk Police Station to “start a conversation” about the issue.

Dave Sharp, 62, is calling for a change in attitude towards survivors and thinks Police Scotland, along with abuse charities, need to have a better understanding about what people like him are going through.

He’s worried that those who have experienced abuse are not getting the help and support they need, and instead are being put to one side.

Mr Sharp, who suffered repeated attacks by priests at the former St Ninian’s School in Falkland, Fife, during the 1970s, says many survivors are left feeling isolated because cops and charities are not providing the right kind of support.

He told Falkirk Live: “Many survivors of child abuse spend their whole lives seeking help because their childhood was torn apart by abuse and they are expecting to be listened to, respected and also to feel protected.

“There are many cases where survivors are left isolated and abandoned for long periods of times with no contact.

“I think drastic changes in the law are needed to provide more support and more rights for survivors.

Dave Sharp camping outside Falkirk Police Station. (Image: Dave Sharp)
Dave Sharp camping outside Falkirk Police Station. (Image: Dave Sharp)

“In many cases when survivors speak out and actually question the level of service they are getting, and life becomes even more lonely for them.

Mr Sharp added: “We know there are plenty of good charities out there like the Moira Anderson foundation and Who Cares Scotland, who go out of their way to make survivors feel a part of a family.

“The Scottish Charity Commission needs to start listening to the experiences of all survivors from all these groups.

“Police Scotland talk a lot about being trauma informed – what they need to do is sit down with survivors and listen to our experiences and they will see they have a long way to go.”

Dave now lives in Northamptonshire, where he runs charity SAFE – Seek And Find Everyone.

Responding to the allegations, Police Scotland said its officers are committed to investigating all forms of abuse.

Detective Superintendent Martin MacLean: “Investigations can be complex and challenging, but victims should be assured we will investigate thoroughly, irrespective of when the abuse occurred, to bring those responsible to justice.

“As a single, national organisation we aim to bring consistency to our approach in tackling offending in all its forms including non-recent offending.

“As our understanding of this issue continues to evolve, we work with partners and other law enforcement agencies across the UK to ensure we develop our practice.

Mr MacLean added: “The needs of the person reporting the abuse are central to the investigation and our work in conjunction with our partner agencies, will ensure that support, if required, is available and is tailored to individual needs.

“Anyone who has been subjected to abuse, irrespective of when it happened, is urged to report it to police.”

A Scottish Charity Commission spokesperson said: “Every registered charity has a duty to meet its charitable purposes and our role as regulator is to make sure charities act within charity law and that charity trustees fulfil their legal duties.

“To assist with that, we provide a wealth of guidance and support materials on our website to help charity trustees understand their role and what they need to do in running a charity.”