Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry to start hearing evidence

A far-reaching inquiry into historical allegations of the abuse of children in care in Scotland will begin hearing evidence on Wednesday.

The first phase of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry will hear evidence from faith-based organisations and residential and foster care providers.

Expert witnesses, the Scottish Government and survivor groups will also give evidence at the hearings.

The inquiry is examining historical allegations of the abuse of children in care and has been taking statements from witnesses since last spring.

It covers the period within living memory of anyone who suffered such abuse, no later than December 17 2014.

The inquiry will consider the extent to which institutions and bodies with legal responsibility for the care of children failed in their duty to protect children in care in Scotland or children whose care was arranged in Scotland, from abuse, and in particular to identify any systemic failures in fulfilling that duty.

It will also consider whether further changes in practice, policy or legislation are necessary in order to protect children in care in Scotland from such abuse in future.

The first phase of hearings will take place at Rosebery House in Edinburgh and is expected to last about seven weeks.

The inquiry will hear evidence of the history and governance of large care providers of residential and foster care to children in Scotland and whether there is any retrospective acknowledgement of abuse.

Among whose giving evidence are The Church of Scotland/CrossReach, the Benedictines and the Good Shepherd Sisters.

Quarriers, Barnardo's and Aberlour Child Care Trust will also appear.

The Scottish Government will give evidence on the nature, extent and development of the state's areas of responsibility for children in residential and foster care in Scotland.

The first phase will start with opening statements from the organisations granted leave to appear by chair Lady Smith.

Expert witnesses will then discuss the legislative and regulatory framework governing children in care in Scotland up to 1968 and the early development of care services in Scotland.

Societal attitudes towards children and the nature and prevalence of child abuse in Scotland will also be discussed.