An update on the Scottish Abuse Inquiry

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) is now hearing evidence, at public sessions and both in person and by video link, on the abuse of children in foster care, including on children who were boarded out. This phase of evidence started on 3 May 2022 and is expected to run until autumn 2022.

Before the current phase on foster care, SCAI broke new ground by hearing from various experts over two days in March 2022 at “round table” evidence sessions. These focused on the psychology of individual adult abusers in the context of preventing the abuse of children in care. Between 1 and 8 June 2022, written submissions were lodged by the experts who attended these sessions and also by certain other experts.  

SCAI heard closing submissions on evidence relating to boarding schools on 17 February 2022. This phase of evidence involved over 220 witnesses and nearly 20,000 documents. In due course, SCAI will publish case study findings on the boarding school evidence. Case study findings on evidence heard previously on child migration also remain to be published. To date, SCAI has published seven sets of case study findings.

It remains to be seen whether any more case studies will follow after the foster care one. SCAI previously confirmed investigations into 4 young offender institutions, 3 local authority establishments and 3 further schools but has not yet confirmed whether evidence will be heard in public on any of those.

SCAI was established as a statutory inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 on 1 October 2015 with an overall aim of raising public awareness of the abuse of children in care (under 18) for the period “within living memory” of any person who suffered such abuse to no later than 17 December 2014. SCAI’s work will conclude with a report to Scottish Ministers. This report was originally to be delivered by October 2019 but the deadline for it was extended before the COVID-19 pandemic to “as soon as reasonably practicable” after then.

To 31 March 2022, SCAI had cost £55,309,420, with £3,654,009 expenditure incurred from 1 January 2022 to 31 March 2022 alone.

Frank Hughes, partner and Fiona McEwan, associate

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