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Scottish child abuse inquiry investigates top private schools 

Fettes CollegeImage copyright Google
Image caption Fettes College is one of the boarding schools being investigated by inquiry staff, the chairwoman confirmed

More than 60 institutions, including several top private schools, are being investigated by the Scottish child abuse inquiry, it has been confirmed.

The new chairwoman of the inquiry, Lady Smith, said they were among 100 locations where abuse is alleged to have taken place.

She said several boarding schools, including Fettes College and Gordonstoun, were being investigated.

The inquiry will look in detail at historical abuse of children in care.

Lady Smith replaces the original chairwoman who resigned in July 2016. Susan O’Brien stood down complaining of government interference.

Speaking at the start of the inquiry at the Court of Session building in Edinburgh, Lady Smith insisted the investigation would be fully independent.

She confirmed that several boarding schools were being investigated by inquiry staff.

Other institutions being investigated include those run by faith-based organisations and major care providers like Quarriers and Barnardo’s.

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Institutions under investigation

Boarding schools

  • Fettes College
  • Gordonstoun
  • The former Keil School
  • Loretto School
  • Merchiston Castle School
  • Morrison’s Academy (when it was a boarding school)

Institutions run by religious orders

  • Benedictines
  • Sisters of Nazareth
  • Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul
  • Christian Brothers
  • Sisters of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
  • De la Salle Brothers
  • Marist Brothers
  • Church of Scotland (Crossreach)

Other providers

  • Quarriers
  • Barnardo’s
  • Aberlour Child Care Trust
  • Widower’s Children’s Home

Local authority establishments

  • Clerwood Children’s Home, Edinburgh
  • Colonsay House, Perth
  • Nimmo Place Children’s Homes, Perth
  • St Margaret’s Children’s Home, Fife
  • Linwood Hall Children’s Home, Fife
  • Kerelaw Secure Unit, Glasgow
  • St Katherine’s Secure Unit, Edinburgh
  • Larchgrove Remand Home, Glasgow

Source: Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

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Lady Smith also said child migrants were “expressly included in the inquiry”, with staff working to contact people in countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand who may have suffered abuse in Scotland.

The first public hearings will begin on 31 May 2017 and the inquiry is expected to last four years.

The judge told the court that she would act independently and without bias, and was fully independent of government, police and prosecutors.

The judge added she would not have agreed to chair the inquiry if she had concerns about its independent status.

‘Systematic failures’

The inquiry states its purpose as being “to investigate the nature and extent of abuse of children whilst in care in Scotland”, while considering “the extent to which institutions and bodies with legal responsibility for the care of children failed in their duty”, in particular seeking any “systemic failures”.

Its terms of reference say it covers a time period “within living memory of any person who suffered such abuse”, up until the point the inquiry was announced in December 2014, and will consider if “changes in practice, policy or legislation are necessary” to protect children in care from abuse in future.

Lady Smith
Image caption Lady Smith, pictured, was appointed to chair the inquiry after the resignation of Susan O’Brien QC

The inquiry has been plagued by problems since it was set up in October 2015. More than £3.5m has been spent on it during this period.

As well as the original chairwoman quitting last July, a second panel member, Prof Michael Lamb, also resigned, claiming the inquiry was “doomed”.

Lady Smith was appointed to replace Ms O’Brien, but Mr Swinney said he was confident a replacement for Prof Lamb was not needed – although he added that experts could be called in to assist Lady Smith and remaining panel member Glenn Houston.

There were also complaints about the remit of the inquiry, with survivors’ groups claiming some abusers could be could be “let off the hook” if children’s’ organisations, clubs and local parish churches were not specifically included in the probe.

However, Mr Swinney told MSPs that it was clear there was “not unanimity on this issue”, concluding that the probe should focus only on in-care settings so that it remained “deliverable within a reasonable timescale”.

He said “terrible crimes” had been committed in other settings, such as day schools and youth groups, but said criminal behaviour should be referred to the police and would be “energetically pursued through the criminal courts” where evidence exists.

A bill has been introduced at Holyrood removing any time bar on people seeking damages over childhood abuse.

We Thank the  Source of the  original story which has been republished on this site.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-38799049

Survivors call for action to find Scotland’s missing victims ahead of historic abuse inquiry

Dave Sharp, survivor and spokesperson for SAFE, is campaigning for justice

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SURVIVORS of historic sexual abuse are today making a plea for more to be done to find Scotland’s missing abuse victims.

Seek and Find Everyone Abused in Childhood, also known as SAFE, has made the call to action with only two weeks left before the formal inquiry into historic abuse starts taking evidence.

SAFE, a group of survivors who have set aside their own time and money to campaign on this issue, want to send a message to all those survivors who are too afraid to speak out.

Survivor and spokesperson for SAFE, Dave Sharp, said: “We understand that victims are looking for like-minded people to connect with. Survivors are looking for people who understand their vulnerabilities and uncertainties and SAFE wants to help them find a path to justice and to have their voice heard.”

Sharp explained that just before last Christmas John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for the abuse inquiry, said that there are roughly 2500 survivors of historical institutional child abuse in Scotland but he wants to know what he has done to find them.

“It’s so important that as many people as possible come forward and we need the help of politicians but also of communities across the country to make that happen,” he added.

“Not only is this the last chance for many old people who have suffered for years to have their voice heard, it is also the best time for survivors to come forward because there are more professional bodies than ever before to help and that is the message we want to give out.

“Some of us met with the police earlier this year and we were assured that they have the resources and the manpower to deal with survivors, and to pass them onto organisations that can walk with them through the process of having their voice heard and seeking justice.”

Sharp’s calls were backed by Mary Robertson, a survivor of family and in-care abuse.

She said: “Thousands of people are still living in shame and fear that their secret will get out. The shame is not theirs to bear. When I first disclosed and felt believed a great burden was lifted from me. I started to look people in the eye, when previously I was scared and felt I had a huge label on my head. Future generations should not have to suffer with the shame like I did for many years.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry said: “The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has been engaging with survivors through private sessions for many months and is also taking evidence from others with valuable information. It is currently investigating 69 institutions as part of its initial investigations.

“As Lady Smith stated at the preliminary hearing, we will not be sharing the numbers of those contacting the inquiry on an ongoing basis. We have been pleased with the response to date but, importantly, as work of the inquiry continues, we still want to hear from people who have been affected.

“We would encourage anyone who has relevant information, whether they have been abused themselves or know others who have, to get in touch.”

SAFE’s campaign to find Scotland’s missing voices was also given full backing by leading abuse charity Wellbeing Scotland.

Wellbeing’s chief executive Janine Rennie said: “John Swinney referred to over 2000 people abused in care and Police Scotland have mentioned a figure closer to 5000. The Inquiry has seen extremely low numbers come forward in comparison to that figure and therefore cannot be seen as reflecting the scale or impact of abuse in Scotland.”

The Scottish Government said that ministers meet survivors and their representatives regularly, and that, where permission was given, those involved are being updated on progress made.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have worked incredibly closely with survivors, particularly in recent years as we have established one of the widest-ranging public inquiries Scotland has ever seen and transformed the support available to adults who were abused as children.

“Ministers meet survivors and their representatives regularly. We carried out a large-scale consultation, which allowed people to take part online, in person at numerous events across the country and via a special phone line and received responses from across Scotland and abroad. And where permission for further contact was given, we have kept those involved updated on the progress in this area.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry said: “The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has been engaging with survivors through private sessions for many months and is also taking evidence from others with valuable information. It is currently investigating 69 institutions as part of its initial investigations.

“As Lady Smith stated at the preliminary hearing, we will not be sharing the numbers of those contacting the Inquiry on an ongoing basis. We have been pleased with the response to date but, importantly, as work of the Inquiry continues, we still want to hear from people who have been affected. We would encourage anyone who has relevant information, whether they have been abused themselves or know others who have, to get in touch.”

Anyone wishing to contact the Inquiry can do so using the following methods

The Inquiry also keeps its website up to date with news and information about its progress and rules. The website address is www.childabuseinquiry.scot

We Thank the  Source of the  original story which has been republished on this site.

http://www.thenational.scot/news/15289768.Survivors_call_for_action_to_find_Scotland_s_missing_victims_ahead_of_historic_abuse_inquiry/