Child abuse inquiry to prioritise evidence from elderly and seriously ill

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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry to hear in advance from those who can't "wait even a few more weeks"

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11th February 2016 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

The independent Inquiry set up to investigate the abuse of children in care in Scotland has announced it is prioritising hearing evidence from the elderly and seriously ill.

Susan O’Brien QC, who is chairing the inquiry, said it was not quite ready to put a call to all survivors and witnesses to come forward, as it is still arranging to put support in place for people who will find giving evidence upsetting.

However, O’Brien explained a decision had been taken after extensive engagement with a range of individuals and organisations with an interest in the work of the inquiry to prioritise some evidence.

“Unfortunately, not everyone can wait even a few more weeks, so we have decided to take evidence from a small number of survivors as a matter of urgency,” she said.

“We were asked to do this by INCAS (In-Care Abuse Survivors), but there may be other witnesses in the same position.

Child abuse inquiry to prioritise evidence from elderly and seriously illSusan O’Brien QC

Unfortunately, not everyone can wait even a few more weeks, so we have decided to take evidence from a small number of survivors as a matter of urgency

“If they make contact with us we will try to take their evidence early.”

The inquiry will cover the period of anything within living memory up to the December 2014 date.

Its overall purpose is to raise public awareness of the abuse of children in care and will provide an opportunity for public acknowledgement of the suffering of those children and a forum for validation of their experience and testimony.

It has also been confirmed the inquiry will be known as the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry as it was felt having the term “historical” was misleading.

O’Brien added: “I have taken a decision to accept evidence of abuse which happened up until 17 December 2014.

“However you look at it, that is not a date far back in history, and I have concluded that the reference to “historical” child abuse is misleading. 

“Anything which might prevent survivors of abuse from coming forward is not a good idea, and we can change the name without expense or difficulty at this early stage.”

The inquiry will examine the extent to which institutions and bodies with legal responsibility for the care of children failed in their duty to protect children in care in Scotland from abuse, and in particular to identify any systemic failures in fulfilling that duty and create a national public record and commentary.

It will also consider whether further changes in practice, policy or legislation are necessary in order to protect children in care in Scotland from such abuse in future.

Those who wish to make contact with the inquiry can do so either by email, [email protected] or post, Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, PO Box 24085, Edinburgh, EH7 9EA.