Catholic Church in Scotland to establish a new safeguarding agency

The Catholic Church in Scotland has announced the creation of a new safeguarding agency. Speaking this month at the end of a national safeguarding webinar which attracted 450 participants from across Scotland, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, announced the establishment of this new body – the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (SCSSA) which will be run as an independent private company.

Speaking to the webinar participants, Bishop Hugh Gilbert said: “The SCSSA will operate entirely independently of the Church and will have its own staff and Board of Management who will work in close collaboration with dioceses and religious communities to ensure that they are able to meet national safeguarding standards. It will also develop a process that will provide an independent review of complaints about safeguarding practice and, crucially, establish a forum in which those who have experienced abuse can contribute their own perspectives to the development of safeguarding.”

Bishop Hugh added: “We will shortly commence the recruitment process for the Chair and members of the Board of Management, followed by the recruitment of a Director and a Head of Safeguarding Training.”

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has already issued certain case study findings on the abuse of children at premises run by various Catholic orders in Scotland with further case study findings in respect of another Catholic order, the Marists, due for publication shortly.

Written by Frank Hughes, Partner and Fiona McEwan, Associate at BLM

(frank.hughes@blmlaw.com / fiona.mcewan@blmlaw.com)

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry to resume hearings, taking evidence on boarding schools

Lady Smith, Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) has announced that evidential hearings for phase 6 of SCAI’s work will start on Tuesday 16 March 2021. This phase will examine the abuse of children in boarding schools. This phase was originally scheduled to start in the second half of January 2021 but was postponed because of the renewed COVID-19 lockdown. For the phase 6 hearings, SCAI will be based at its headquarters at Rosebery House in Edinburgh and will hear from witnesses both in person and remotely by video link.

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Scottish in-care child abuse redress bill at the second of three legislative stages

On Wednesday 10 February 2021 the Education and Skills committee at the Scottish Parliament will start to consider proposed amendments to the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill.

In total, 107 amendments have so far been proposed. Further amendments could be proposed both during the current Stage 2 of the Scottish legislative process and also during the final third stage. Amendments made during Stage 2 could even be overturned by amendments at Stage 3. As is often the case, Stage 2 is being undertaken at committee level rather than by the Scottish Parliament sitting as a whole in chamber. Assuming that the bill proceeds to Stage 3, the parliament as a whole would consider and vote on any further proposed amendments before debating and deciding whether to pass the bill.

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The latest from the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

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.

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Scottish claims and litigation

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.

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Scottish Government – Public Consultation – Proposals on redress payments, evidence and assessment

In our last blog we looked at the general overarching principles of the proposed statutory financial redress scheme (“the Scheme”) in Scotland.

In today’s blog we intend to look at the proposed redress payments, what evidence will be required and how the redress payable will be assessed.

It is the Scottish Government’s intention that the Scheme will provide for a combination payment approach which could have two possible stages much like the Lambeth Redress Scheme.

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Scottish statutory “in care” redress scheme

Today, Scottish Government launched a pre-legislative consultation on a redress scheme for childhood abuse in care.

A link to the consultation webpage is here. The consultation closes on 25 November 2019. Scottish Government has committed to introducing a Bill for a redress scheme in spring 2020 and for the legislation to be passed, assuming parliamentary approval, before March 2021. Royal Assent and possibly also a commencement order would then be needed to bring the Act’s provisions into force.

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Update on the Advance Payment Scheme in Scotland

The Advanced Payment Scheme (APS) is open to anyone who was in care as a child and was abused in care in Scotland before December 2004. Payments will be made on a discretionary basis to those who have a terminal illness or who are age 70 or over.

The APS has worked well with the first payments being made within three weeks of its launch.

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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI): an update

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.

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Scottish update

On 9 March 2018, the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill, which we covered in our 12 February 2018 blog, became an Act of the Scottish Parliament upon the grant of Royal Assent. Its provisions will be brought into force at a later date by Scottish ministerial regulations. Continue reading