News

Independent Inquiry into Historical Abuse of Children in Care formally starts work

Thursday 1st October 2015

Education Secretary Angela Constance welcomed the start of the statutory national public Inquiry into historical abuse of children in care today. Susan O’Brien QC, an experienced advocate with a wealth of experience, is Chair of the Inquiry. Recruitment has begun for panel members and expert assessors to assist her. Ms Constance said: “Today is an important landmark for all of those who have campaigned for an independent national Inquiry with statutory powers to compel witnesses. “To mark the official start of the Inquiry today, Ms O’Brien has outlined the work that she and her team have already begun and how they will take this momentous Inquiry forward. “I want to reiterate my gratitude to all survivors and their supporters who have helped us reach this point. Their willingness to recount such painful experiences was vitally important in helping us set a remit that would deliver the justice they rightly deserve. It is also in response to their guidance that I have said that the Inquiry will report back within four years of this start date. “Many of those who have championed this Inquiry have been campaigning a long time and I want to reassure them that they will see it conclude within a reasonable timeframe. Getting here has been a challenge and there is still a long way to go, but I am confident we have taken the time to allow the Chair to lay the foundations of an Inquiry that will allow us as a society to right historic wrongs.” The Inquiry will examine any instance where a child was abused ‘in care’, at institutions including residential care provided by faith based organisations; children’s homes and secure care. The scope will also include those placed in foster care. For the purposes of the Inquiry the term ‘in care’ will carry a broader interpretation beyond those formally placed in care by the state. It will include allegations of abuse affecting boarded out children; child migrant schemes; and school hostels and health care establishments providing long term care for children. Independent boarding schools will also be included. The Cabinet Secretary added: “When announcing the Chair in July I also committed to establish a dedicated support fund for survivors of abuse who were placed in care by the state. This will enable survivors to identify their own personal goals and access the right support to achieve them. Work on this is underway with £13.5 million allocated over the next five years to develop a dedicated in care support service. An additional £1 million is also being used to enhance the support available to all who were abused as children, regardless of the setting, through the SurvivorScotland development fund. “I also made it clear that it is our intention to lift the 3 year time-bar on civil actions in cases of historical child abuse for cases after 1964. The consultation on this proposal recently closed and we are now reflecting on the responses.”