The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has appealed for victims to continue to contact them despite the coronavirus outbreak halting public hearings for the time being.
In a video message, the chair of the Inquiry, senior judge Lady Smith, assured anyone who wished to contact the inquiry that they would remain able to do. Although face-to-face meetings have been ruled out due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic, witness support teams will continue to operate phone lines. This follows an announcement last week that planned hearings relating to child migration have been suspended indefinitely.
Staff members of the inquiry, which began in 2015, will work remotely to investigate claims and prepare for the next phase of the inquiry, focussed on boarding schools and originally scheduled to begin in July of this year. Ten new institutions from across Scotland were identified earlier this month as subject to investigation, including four young offenders institutions.
The analysis of previous case studies, relating to Catholic religious orders – the Christian Brothers, Benedictines and Marists – will continue, with the inquiries findings intended to be published as soon as possible.
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry was set up in October 2015, with the intention of raising public awareness of the abuse of children in care, providing a public forum to acknowledge the suffering of those victims, and establishing legal and regulatory frameworks to ensure abuse does not reoccur. Over the course of the Inquiry, a number of state and non-state institutions have been investigated, including the Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow, several Catholic religious orders, the Church of Scotland, and a majority of Scotland's local authorities.
Last May the Inquiry found that children in four homes run by the Sisters of Nazareth in Aberdeen, Cardonald, Lasswade and Kilmarnock endured systematic violence and emotional abuse across 50 years, from 1933 to 1984. Lady Smith stated that the children in these homes were “deprived of the dignity, compassion and care they were entitled to” and that abuse reached levels “of the utmost depravity”. The Sisters of Nazareth issued a statement thanking the inquiry for the report and expressing their “deep shame” over the abuse.
The Inquiry can be contacted by phone on 0800 0929 300, Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm, or by email at [email protected]