Scotland-wide child abuse inquiry to hold first hearing

Chairwoman Lady Smith will give an update on the progress so far in Edinburgh.

Inquiry: Lady Smith is chairing the hearing.
Inquiry: Lady Smith is chairing the hearing.

Scotland’s national child abuse inquiry is due to stage its first public hearing.

Chairwoman Lady Smith will provide an update on the inquiry’s current investigations during a preliminary hearing in Edinburgh.

She will also set out how individuals and interested parties can participate in the process, and outline the different ways the inquiry is gathering evidence.

The session, at Parliament House in the Old Town, will deal only with procedural matters so no witnesses will be called.

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The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is looking at historical allegations of the abuse of children in care and is currently taking evidence from people who were abused.

The remit includes youngsters in institutional residential care such as children’s homes, including accommodation provided by faith-based groups; secure care units; borstals; young offenders’ institutions, and boarding schools.

It aims to raise public awareness of the physical and sexual abuse of children in care and to “provide an opportunity for public acknowledgement of the suffering of the children”.

It will examine the nature and extent of the abuse, consider the extent to which institutions failed in their duty to protect children in care in Scotland, and identify any systemic failures.

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Established in October 2015, the inquiry is expected to report to ministers within four years, offering recommendations to improve the law, policies and practices in Scotland.

Senior judge Lady Smith was appointed to lead the independent public inquiry following the departure of its previous chairwoman, Susan O’Brien QC.

Announcing the appointment in July last year, deputy first minister John Swinney praised Lady Smith’s “leadership, independence and sensitivity”.

In March 2016, then-chairwoman Ms O’Brien held a public session in Glasgow in which she launched a call for evidence and described the scale of the inquiry as “huge”.

Members of the public are free to attend Tuesday’s hearing, with seating allocated on a first-come, first-served, basis.

A recording of the full event will be made available on the inquiry website later.


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