Righting wrongs and entrenching rights: ongoing activity in Scotland

Followers of this blog will be aware that the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee has issued a call for views on the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill. This legislation seeks to right certain wrongs of the past by means of financial redress for survivors of childhood (under 18) abuse in relevant in-care settings. The call for views closes on 2 October 2020.

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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry: an update

On 15 September 2020, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) plans to resume hearing evidence relating to the child migration case study. Evidence on Scottish Government knowledge of and response to abuse is planned for mid-November 2020.  A case study examining the abuse of children in boarding schools is expected to start in early 2021.

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Parliamentary call for views launched on Scottish in-care redress bill

On 24 August 2020 the Education and Skills Committee at the Scottish Parliament launched a call for views on the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill.

  • A link to the call for views is here. A link to guidance issued on creating a submission in response to this call is here.
  • The closing date for responses is 2 October 2020.
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Scottish Redress Bill discussed in Scottish Parliament

In the morning of 19 August 2020 the Education and Skills Committee of the Scottish Parliament considered, in private, its approach to the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill. This committee will be scrutinising the bill at Stage 1 of the three stage Scottish legislative process. That afternoon, the Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, delivered a statement in the parliament’s chamber on the bill and took questions on it.

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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry releases spring / summer 2020 newsletter

On 9 June 2020 the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) released a spring / summer 2020 newsletter. This is the seventh SCAI newsletter (link here). This newsletter gives reassurance that SCAI has not stopped working during the COVID-19 (C-19) crisis albeit public hearings – including on child migration and, separately, boarding schools – are postponed until further notice.

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Around 60 children were subjected to footage of child sex abuse, while they were taking part in a fitness class on Zoom, on Tuesday 5 May. The Zoom call had been hacked by someone who streamed the video of the abuse into the session, in a practice known as ‘Zoombombing’. The class had been organised by a sports club in Plymouth and it is believe the hacker gained access as a result of the group’s login details having been published on public internet forums.

Devon and Cornwall police officers are working with Plymouth City Council’s social care team to identify all those who saw the footage, and may have been affected by seeing the images, so as to provide them with any advice or support, as required.

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Work of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry continues despite COVID-19

In a YouTube video released on 26 March 2020, Lady Smith, chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI), emphasised that the ‘vital work of SCAI continues’ with all staff working remotely with access to ‘excellent IT and infrastructure’. SCAI’s phone lines are presently operating Monday to Friday 10am-4pm to ‘support applicants and witnesses’. Investigative and preparatory work for announced case studies continues. Work also continues in reviewing and analysing evidence heard during previous case study hearings. Further case study findings will be published ‘as soon as possible’. To date, SCAI has published three sets of findings but has not yet made any recommendations.

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Abuse survivors call for redress from Scottish Football Association

It has been reported that ten survivors of child sexual abuse, whilst football players at Scottish clubs in the 1970s and 1980s, have joined forces to progress a civil claim/claims against the Scottish Football Association (‘SFA’).

The claimants state that the SFA was the governing body at the time of the abuse and that they should be held to a duty of care. The claimants call for redress.

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Scottish Government publishes independent analysis of pre-legislative public consultation on financial redress for historical child abuse in care

To inform the design and delivery of the proposed statutory financial redress scheme in Scotland, the Scottish Government launched a pre-legislative public consultation last year which ran for 12 weeks, closing on 25 November 2019.

In total, 280 responses to the consultation were received. Of these, 82% were from individuals, while the remainder 18% were from organisations.

Of the individuals who responded, around 91% identified as a survivor of abuse in care and some individuals drew on their own experience of abuse in care to illustrate or explain their answers.

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