Historic child abuse crimes aired in hearing as charities and churches apologise for loss of records and abuse
CARE GROUPS AND CHURCHS IN SCOTLAND have expressed deep regret and shame to the victims of child abuse at a hearing into “historical crimes” at the first hearing of Scotland’s child abuse inquiry.
At the first session of Scotland’s child abuse inquiry, nine Catholic bodies and other agencies, including Quarriers and CrossReach, a Church of Scotland organisation, offered apologies for the behaviour of some of their staff.
In an opening statement on behalf of the Catholic Church’s Bishops’ Conference, Canon Thomas Boyle said the Church had “missed red lights and warning signs”, but had also been “deceived” by the abusers.
It was also revealed that a number of organisations such as charities who ran residential homes during the 1940’s had records destroyed, making investigation more difficult.
“To those who endured abuse and to others who intend to come forward, the Church expresses its sorrow for what happened.” Laura Dunlop QC
Over 60 institutions across Scotland are being investigated including several leading private schools and church bodies of all denominations.
The first session of the hearing focused on the legislative and regulatory framework governing children in care in Scotland up to 1968, the early development of care services in Scotland, development of societal attitudes towards children and the nature and prevalence of child abuse in Scotland.
High Court judge Lady Smith, who is chairing the child abuse inquiry, said that the extent of abuse in residential homes was “painful and even more extensive than previously reported”.
The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul are among a number of organisations that have claimed incomplete records saying their papers had been destroyed by fire or have deteriorated as a result of flooding.
“Our most vulnerable children, those most in need of nurture and support, and entrusted to the care of the state or a body acting on behalf of the state . . . [had been] most cruelly betrayed”. John Scott QC
John Scott QC, representing a group called ‘In Care Abuse Survivors’ said that it would be hard to judge even the true number of victims partly because of “poor behaviour” of care organisations.
In his opening statement, Scott said the inquiry would be weakened in its remit by “the loss or deliberate destruction of records, or, in some cases, the failure to keep proper records in the first place.”
Calling on the Scottish government to grant compensation to the victims, he said: “Our most vulnerable children, those most in need of nurture and support, and entrusted to the care of the state or a body acting on behalf of the state . . . [had been] most cruelly betrayed”.
Laura Dunlop QC, representing Crossreach, the social care arm of the Church of Scotland, said it was “inescapable” and a matter of “profound regret” that abuse had taken place in three of its establishments.
She said: “To those who endured abuse and to others who intend to come forward, the Church expresses its sorrow for what happened.”
The inquiry will report its final findings in 2019, four years after it was set up. The hearing will continue today (Thursday 1 June), Friday 2 June and after then they will take place four days each week. This phase is expected to last for about seven weeks.
Picture courtesy of Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
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