On 17 February 2021, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) published its fourth set of case study findings.
The latest findings follow evidence heard at Phase 4 of SCAI’s public hearings between 4 June and 16 July, both 2019 on a residential care home, St Ninian’s in Fife, run by The Christian Brothers, a male, Catholic, religious order. The findings cover the period between 1953 and 1983. A link to the findings is here.
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) is currently hearing evidence on the actions of central government on issues arising from the non-recent abuse of children in institutional care. These hearings are also exploring the reasons why calls for a public inquiry throughout the period between August 2002 and December 2014 were turned down by Scottish Government.
On 22 October 2020, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) confirmed expenditure of £2.9m in the three months to 30 September 2020, taking total expenditure to £38.2m.
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) has added a further ten institutions to the list of establishments under investigation, taking the total number under investigation to 96.
Four young offenders institutions are among the ten now added along with three local authority establishments, a religious school, an independent school and an industrial school, which became an “Approved” and then a “List D” school.
In recent blogs, we have considered the Scottish Government’s plan for a statutory redress scheme. One of the evolving issues is whether engagement with the statutory scheme should be to the exclusion of a claimant’s ability to issue civil court proceedings. Scottish Government is committed to establishing the legislative framework for a redress scheme before the end of March 2021.
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) has announced plans for hearing further evidence in 2019 and 2020. In chronological order, SCAI plans to:
- By late 2019 – complete evidence for the presently ongoing Phase 4 hearings on child care establishments run by male religious orders.
- Before the end of 2019 – start Phase 5 hearings on child abuse arising in child migration programmes. SCAI has, in fact, already taken evidence by video link from Australia on 21 and 23 January and 25 March 2019 from three witnesses whose evidence is relevant to this phase.
- Spring 2020 – return to complete Phase 1. This phase is on the background and context to SCAI’s work including the history and governance of institutions and expert evidence on the legislative and regulatory framework for children in care.
- Summer 2020 – start Phase 6 hearings on provision at 7 Scottish boarding schools. Details of these schools can be seen on SCAI’s webpage here.
SCAI has also indicated an intention to investigate foster care. The current plan is for evidence to be heard on that, presumably at a Phase 7, around the end of 2020.
Separately, a call has been made by a traveller rights activist for SCAI to open up a new phase focussing on the experience of Scottish child travellers. It remains unknown whether SCAI’s work will be specifically extended for that, with previous calls to extend the remit of the Inquiry (to non-residential care) not having been implemented by the Scottish Government. It is also worth emphasising that SCAI is investigating the abuse of children in care, including children whose care was arranged in Scotland. Scottish child travellers who were in care or had their care arranged in Scotland are, therefore, already covered by SCAI’s remit.
When it was set up in October 2015, SCAI was tasked with reporting to Scottish Government by October 2019. The timescale has been extended to “as soon as reasonably practicable” after then. To date, SCAI has produced two sets of findings, both of which are on evidence heard at Phase 2. No recommendations have yet been published. With evidence now scheduled to run at least until the end of 2020, it may be some considerable time yet before SCAI’s work is done.
Frank Hughes, partner and Fiona McEwan, associate
It was announced last week that the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) will hear evidence from two convicted abusers. This evidence will be heard via video link from prison during mid-June and early July. It will form part of the current Phase 4 of SCAI’s public hearings into residential care establishments run by male religious orders. The two men involved were sentenced to five and 10 years in jail in 2016 for assaulting pupils at a school in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Overview of present position
SCAI’s work, which started in October 2015, continues. SCAI is to report, with recommendations, to Scottish Ministers as soon as reasonably practicable after October 2019.
SCAI’s overall aim is to raise public awareness of the abuse of children in care (under 18) for the period “within living memory” of any person who suffered such abuse no later than 17 December 2014.
To date, SCAI has heard evidence in public during three phases. One set of findings relating to one part of one of the phases has been published. Further findings are anticipated shortly. Various expert reports have been commissioned and published.
The cost of SCAI to end 2018 was £19,737,688. Expenditure is published quarterly.