Coronavirus in Scotland: Pandemic will not get in the way of child abuse inquiry
March 27, 2020
THE judge presiding over the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has vowed that the coronavirus crisis will not stop her investigators from continuing their work.
Judge Lady Smith said yesterday on Thursday that people could still continue to contact the inquiry if they wish to do so.
It comes after public hearings were cancelled earlier this month.
However, the inquiry is still continuing to probe claims of historic abuse at 10 new care institutions.
On Thursday, Lady Smith said that staff at the inquiry would continue to work remotely.
She added: “I know some will be anxious about whether they can continue their ongoing contact with the inquiry or indeed about whether it is possible at the moment to contact us for the first time.
“The answer to both of these is ‘yes’.
“Whilst we will not be holding face to face meetings, our witness support team will continue to operate the ‘Talk to Us’ phone line and will be working to support applicants and other witnesses throughout this challenging time.
“I have not taken these decisions lightly but I must put the well being of our applicants, witnesses, staff and our communities at the forefront of my decisions.”
The inquiry began to hear evidence in 2017 and has covered the care provided in the past to Scottish children from religious institutions like the Marist Brothers, an order of the Roman Catholic Church.
Earlier this month, the inquiry revealed that it was set to probe 10 new institutions.
The inquiry is set to investigate abuse at Young Offenders Institutions including Glenochil, Polmont, Barlinnie and Longriggend detention centre in Airdrie.
It also aims to look into abuse at Wellington School in Penicuik, Midlothian, Bellfield Remand Home in Dumbarton, and Langlands Park Secure Unit in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde.
Investigators will look at St Philip’s school in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, and Thornly Park school in Paisley, Renfrewshire.
Lady Smith added: “Organisations throughout the UK have had to effect rapid changes to their working practices over the last couple of weeks as the country responds to the coronavirus outbreak and the inquiry is no different.
“Last week I announced that the planned hearings relating to child migration had been postponed until further notice.
“That remains the position.
“Information relating to the timetabling of future hearings in relation to child migration and other case studies will be provided as soon as we are able to do so.
“However, the vitally important work of the inquiry continues, including the work of investigation, reflection and analysis and preparation for announced case studies, with staff working remotely.”
People who want to speak to investigators about their experiences of being abused at institutions are advised to contact the inquiry by telephone on 0800 0929 300 or email at email@example.com.