On 11 October 2018, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) published its first findings.
The findings follow 20 days of evidence heard between November 2017 and January 2018 from 54 witnesses and also take account of a further 21 written submissions. That evidence and the findings are on two residential care establishments run by a religious order between 1917 and 1981.
In short, the detailed evidential findings allow Lady Smith to reach the broad conclusion that “for many, the homes were places of fear, coercive control, threat, excessive discipline and emotional, physical and sexual abuse.”
The order’s failure to keep adequate records of the children in its care is noted in the findings as a “serious failure in care”.
Lady Smith, the Scottish Judge and Chair of SCAI, makes the point that she has applied the civil standard of proof, balance of probabilities, rather than the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt, when assessing the evidence and making her findings.
No recommendations are made in the findings. Lady Smith will take the findings into account at a later stage when analysing systemic failures and deciding what recommendations to make.
As soon as is practicable, the SCAI will publish further findings on certain other religious residential care establishments on which public hearings concluded in July 2018.
On 23 October 2018, the SCAI will move on to its third case study, examining the provision of residential care by three non-religious voluntary organisations.
Authored by Frank Hughes, Partner and Fiona McEwan, Associate, BLM Glasgow