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Published, 28 May 2015

Chair announced for Inquiry into historical child abuse

Our Statement following the announcement by Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance, on the Inquiry into historical child abuse in institutional care.

Jennifer Davidson, Director, Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland based at University of Strathclyde, said:

'This announcement by the Cabinet Secretary is an important milestone for the people of Scotland, and in particular for abuse survivors. For many survivors, their experience is not historic because they live with the lifelong consequences of their abuse on a daily basis.

'Care should help children to reach their full potential, and nurturing and safe care is happening every day throughout Scotland. Where abuse has happened we have a moral responsibility as a society to support their healing and ensure survivors have access to justice.

'Survivors, care providers and former care providers have worked hard together to find a way forward and have gained a mutual respect and understanding through the recent Human Rights InterAction process, and the engagement events which CELCIS supported with the Scottish Government this year. The announcement today of a National Inquiry forms a fundamental shift in how our country has responded to survivors' needs, and is one of a number of key actions negotiated through what has been a courageous consultative process.

'The announcement of Susan O’Brien QC as chair is welcomed news. I'm confident she will lead a fair, thorough and honest Inquiry to ensure we have a public record of our collective history, and that lessons are learned in Scotland. We will continue to support survivors and care providers in this process.'

Professor Andrew Kendrick of CELCIS continued:

'This Public Inquiry is a significant step forward in achieving justice for survivors of historical abuse. For too long the voices of survivors have not been heard and they have campaigned over many years for acknowledgment of their experiences and for justice. We have been privileged to work with survivors and other key organisations through the InterAction on Historical Abuse of Children in Care.

'The Inquiry gives the opportunity to investigate the extent and nature of abuse in care and the reasons why it happened; to hear the experiences of survivors of abuse. It can also highlight the changes that have been made to protect children in care and how these can be further improved. While focusing on abuse in care settings, we must also remember that many children and young people have positive experiences of care and the important role of residential and foster carers.

'The Inquiry will also highlight the long-term consequences of abuse, and the measures to address the current needs of survivors are to be welcomed.'

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