Explainer: What is the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and why was it set up?

Alice Muir

Common Space looks at the main points of discussion for the Scottish Child Abuse inquiry and how and why it was set up

THE Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry was set up to investigate the abuse of children in care in Scotland. It was originally chaired by Susan O’Brien QC and psychologist Professor Lamb, both of whom have since resigned from their posts over allegations that the Scottish Government tried to interfere in the inquiry – something the government has denied.

We’ve put together some key points about the inquiry and what it was set up to achieve.

What is the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry?

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is an investigation into the abuse of children in care in Scotland. This includes children who were abused while in residential care or in foster care. For example, abuse that happened in a children’s home, boarding school or List D school. It has been set up as an independent inquiry which should have no involvement from the Scottish Government until the stage at which the final report is submitted.

When was the inquiry set up?

The inquiry was set up on 1 October 2015 and it was Scottish Government Ministers who decided what the inquiry should look into. It considers most forms of abuse, and testimonies will be taken from victims who were subject to abuse while in care in Scotland up until 17 December 2014.

What information will be considered in the inquiry?

Survivors of abuse will have the opportunity to speak directly to members of the inquiry at private sessions. Public hearings will also be heard, however, no survivor will be made to give evidence in public. The inquiry is limited in what information it can consider. For example, abuse which happened at home or as adults will not be considered in this particular inquiry.

What will the inquiry achieve?

The inquiry aims to raise public awareness of the abuse of children in care. It looks to provide an opportunity for public acknowledgement of the suffering of the children who were abused. The purpose of it is to validate the survivors’ experience and suffering.

A conclusive report will be submitted to the Scottish Government Ministers by 2019 which will include recommendations for the future to improve the law, policies and practices in Scotland. The report will also be presented to the Scottish Parliament.

While the inquiry can force people and organisations to provide evidence and any records that still exist, it cannot award compensation to the victims or convict a person of a crime. It is important to note that the inquiry is not a court.

Picture courtesy of Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry website

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