Update on the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

On 16 January 2020, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) published its costs from its inception in October 2015 to the end of 2019. Cost in that period was £30,049,590.

SCAI’s work continues. Phase 5 public hearings, on investigations into the abuse of children whose departure from Scotland to countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand was part of child migration programmes, are due to resume in February 2020. This phase started on 3 December 2019 with evidence being heard that month by video-link from witnesses who were unable to travel to the inquiry.

In spring 2020, SCAI plans to return to matters last considered during Phase 1 relating to the background to and context within which SCAI was established. There will be particular focus on Scottish Government’s knowledge of and response to allegations of abuse of children in care.

Phase 6 case studies on seven boarding schools are expected to start in summer 2020.

The current intention is for the historical position on foster care to be examined around the end of 2020. Existing foster care provision will be considered later.

SCAI’s overall aim is to raise awareness of the abuse of children in care (under 18) for the period ‘within living memory’ to no later than 17 December 2014. To date, three sets of case study findings have been published, two relating to evidence heard at Phase 2 (on female religious orders) and one relating to evidence heard at Phase 3 (on voluntary organisations). Phase 4 hearings were concerned with male religious orders.

SCAI’s work was originally intended to last four years, to October 2019. It is now due to report to Scottish Ministers ‘as soon as reasonably practicable.’ Towards the end of last year, The Sunday Times reported predictions that the final cost of SCAI will be up to £50m and that its work is likely to run until at least 2022.


Fiona McEwan, Associate and Frank Hughes, Partner
fiona.mcewan@blmlaw.com and frank.hughes@blmlaw.com

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