Scottish review supports a financial compensation/ redress scheme for victims/survivors of abuse in care
The SHRC InterAction Action Plan Review Group, in partnership with CELCIS (the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children) has today (Thursday, 6 September) published a set of reports and recommendations regarding a potential financial compensation/redress scheme for victims/survivors of abuse in care in Scotland.
The reports and recommendations have been presented to Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney and are available on the CELCIS website. CELCIS has worked in partnership to support the work of the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Review Group, and this work follows the development of the Action Plan for Justice for Victims of Historic Abuse of Children in Care.
The recommendations are shaped by a consultation and engagement exercise, the first ever undertaken in Scotland to consider this specific matter. The main focus of this was a national consultation with victims/survivors of abuse in care. Throughout the design and delivery of this work the views of victims/survivors have been represented.
The consultation was carried out on behalf of the Scottish Government and the Group is now reporting back with 14 recommendations for Scottish Ministers to consider when deciding whether to take forward a scheme in Scotland.
Key to the consultation, victims/survivors were asked if the Scottish Government should introduce a financial compensation/redress scheme and almost all who answered this question said yes. The InterAction Action Plan Review Group supports this view and has outlined this opinion in a set of recommendations. In addition, they recommend that an advance payment scheme for elderly and ill victims/survivors should be progressed as soon as possible and in advance of any main financial compensation/redress scheme.
A financial compensation/redress scheme could offer an alternative route for those victims/survivors who are unable to, or choose not to, pursue financial compensation through existing routes, such as civil damages or the criminal injuries compensation scheme.
The reports published are:
• Report 1: Executive Summary of the consultation with victim/survivors of abuse in care
• Report 2: Analysis and findings of the consultation of victims/survivors of abuse in care
• Report 3: International Perspectives – a descriptive summary
• Report 4: Initial perspectives from residential and foster care service providers and other relevant professional groups
A letter from the Review Group outlining the recommendations is also published alongside the reports.
The Scottish Government will now be considering this information.
Professor Andrew Kendrick, Chair of the InterAction Action Plan Review Group, said:
“The Review Group has maintained a steady commitment to getting the consultation and engagement exercise right, to ensure that victims’/survivors’ views have informed the process and the content of the work and ensuring our approach is robust and considered. There has been a clear message from victims/survivors who gave their views in this consultation, and this is an important step in addressing the need for financial compensation/redress for victims/survivors of abuse in care.
“Victims/survivors have provided important insights into the complex issues involved and provided significant information on how this could be taken forward.”
David Whelan, on behalf of The Former Boys and Girls Abused In Quarriers (FBGA), who were represented on the Review Group, said:
“We welcome the outcomes of the financial compensation/ redress consultation. Working in partnership with other victims-survivors and the Scottish Human Rights Commission, CELCIS and the Scottish Government representative on the Interaction Review group. We have proposed a set of recommendations to the Scottish Government.
“FBGA believes that the recommendations that the Review group members with the other parties have arrived at, drawing from the contributions of all the victim/survivors who took part in the consultation, and now proposed to the Scottish Government will address the outstanding issues in a fair and reasonable manner for all victims/survivors regardless, including those victims-survivors who are very ill, elderly and pre:1964.
“FBGA seek the full implementation of all the recommendations without further delay including the advance payment scheme. That any advance payment scheme and financial compensation/redress scheme set-up is reasonable and equitable taking account of the individuals past abuse experiences its impact, the severity and longevity of the abuse.
“We thank the Scottish Government for its recent positive engagement and genuine commitment with the Interaction Review Group to resolve the outstanding issues concerning historical in care abuse.”
Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director at CELCIS, University of Strathclyde, said:
“Care should help children to reach their full potential, and nurturing and safe care is happening every day throughout Scotland. Where abuse in care has happened, it is a grave injustice that can create lifelong harm, and this consultation offered an opportunity for the survivors who have taken part to share their views on this important issue. We have a responsibility as a society to ensure that forms of redress are in place for those that need and want this, as we strive to prevent abuse and protect children now and in the future.”
Judith Robertson, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, commented:
“The Scottish Human Rights Commission welcomes the Review Group’s recommendations to the Scottish Government on financial redress for historic abuse survivors and we look forward to them and we look forward to them being implemented in full.
“A financial compensation or redress scheme is essential for securing access to justice for survivors of childhood abuse. Anyone who has been subjected to sexual abuse and serious physical or emotional abuse or neglect has a human right to access an effective and fair remedy.
“We also support the recommendation that an advanced payment scheme for older and ill survivors is progressed as soon as possible and before the main scheme is established in law."
The recommendations are:
- Recommendation - A financial compensation/redress scheme for victims/survivors of abuse in care should be established.
Almost all (99 per cent) of victims/survivors who answered this question considered that a financial compensation/redress scheme should be established. The SHRC Framework highlighted that the state has a duty to ensure effective remedies for violations of human rights and this includes the need for a financial compensation mechanism that is open to all victims/survivors of abuse in care. This is not currently being provided in Scotland.
- Recommendation – Approval of a financial compensation/redress scheme for victims/survivors of abuse in care should take place as soon as possible following detailed scheme design.
The Review Group urges the Scottish Government to approve a financial compensation/redress scheme for victims/survivors of abuse in care as soon as possible, following detailed scheme design, and for legislation to be passed by the end of this parliamentary term, March 2021.
- Recommendation - The preferred approach to financial compensation/redress is a combination payment.
The majority of victims/survivors who answered this question felt that the preferred approach is a combination payment which involves a flat-rate standard payment along with an individual experience payment which takes account of a range of factors such as: the nature of abuse; the severity of abuse; the period of abuse; and the life-long consequences of the abuse. The operational design and detail will need further consideration.
- Recommendation - Next-of-kin of deceased victims/survivors of historic abuse should be eligible to apply to a scheme.
The majority of victims/survivors who answered this question indicate support that the next-of-kin of deceased victims/survivors should be eligible for compensation/redress. However, there were a number of cautions about the eligibility of next-of-kin, in terms of the definition of next-of-kin, personal relationships with the deceased victims/survivors while they were living, and practical operational issues. These matters require further consideration.
- Recommendation – There should be arrangements for interim payments which would allow priority groups of victims/survivors to access payments prior to full payment.
It was considered by the majority of victims/survivors who answered this question that it is important for priority groups of victims/survivors to access interim payments. There was a range of views regarding the criteria for these payments, in general, age and health factors were highlighted as priorities. Such interim payments should be considered in the context of further discussions about ‘advanced payments’ (see below).
- Recommendation - A range of written and verbal information, where available, should be used to assess individual applications.
Victims/survivors who answered this question considered that, where available, a range of written and verbal information should be used to assess applications, and this included: information about placement details; nature and severity of abuse experienced; information on impact of the abuse; testimony from a third party; police records of alleged or convicted perpetrators of abuse; previous or ongoing civil/criminal action; and, material prepared for another purpose. Challenges in the availability and securing of information, the impact on individuals through the process and the importance of choice were also noted.
- Recommendation – A range of support and guidance should be put in place for applicants to assist them through the process of the scheme.
Most victims/survivors who answered this question outlined a number of potential different types of supports to meet a range of individual and different needs at each stage through the application and payment process. These included: practical support, emotional support, financial advice, legal advice and advocacy.
- Recommendation - Victims/survivors should be represented in the administration and governance of a full financial compensation/redress scheme.
The value and insight offered by victim/survivor representation was highlighted by the consultation participants. Similar to the types of support, victims/survivors suggested a broad range of ways by which victim/survivors could be represented, either through the development and administration of the scheme or the individual application process. These views accord with a human rights based approach where participation is a recognised key component. Representation and participation should be significant and meaningful, involving appropriate information available in accessible formats, and the provision of necessary support and guidance.
- Recommendation - A range of knowledge and understanding should be represented in any panel or board which will have a decision making role in the scheme.
Victims/survivors who answered this question noted a number of suggested professional backgrounds and specified services, and highlighted the value of lived experience. Key areas of knowledge and understanding included: advocacy, finance, health, human rights law, social care, and trauma.
- Recommendation - All those responsible should contribute to a financial compensation/redress scheme.
Victims/survivors who answered this question consider that all those responsible should contribute, including: Scottish Government, residential and foster care providers, local authorities which placed children in care and those which provided care placements, and religious bodies responsible for care services. The SHRC Framework also makes clear that institutions should contribute to reparation packages in a manner proportionate to the extent to which they are accountable.
- Recommendation - Scheme design should take account of a number of key principles to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of a scheme.
Victims/survivors who answered this question noted that the scheme will need to address important principles of choice, fairness, respect, integrity and individual experience, needs and wishes. The integrity of the scheme is crucial and it must be robust and credible; the evidence required, and the scrutiny of it, must create a balance which will deter fraudulent claims, without putting off applicants or refusing genuine applications because of lack of evidence.
- Recommendation - It is essential that any potential negative consequences are considered during scheme design.
The risk of any negative consequences for individual victims/survivors was highlighted by consultation participants. It is important to consider how these could be prevented and where this not possible, mitigated. This would include considering how any payment may impact on personal vulnerabilities as well as benefits, pension, or any previous payments such as criminal injuries compensation payments.
- Recommendation – The Scottish Government should discuss next steps with the Review Group and other victims/survivors, particularly the process to take forward detailed scheme design and implementation.
The consultation with victims/survivors identified a number of issues where there was a high level of consensus, as well as areas where views were more mixed. There were a number of matters which will require further work to ensure any implemented scheme is appropriate to Scotland and Scotland’s victims/survivors of historic abuse in care. These should be taken forward in discussion with the Review Group and other victims/survivors.
Alongside the consultation and consideration of ‘interim payments’, specific discussions took place concerning the status of pre-1964 victims/survivors and all the following recommendation was made in regard to an advance payment scheme.
- Recommendation – An ‘advanced payment scheme’ for the elderly and ill should be progressed as soon as possible and before the main financial compensation/redress scheme is established in statute.
The Review Group is currently considering further details, including eligibility matters relating to this proposal and will forward any relevant information as soon as possible.
Notes to Editors
Lesley Sneddon, CELCIS Communications Manager
T: 0141 444 8544
Background information on the consultation and engagement
In January 2017, The Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS), in partnership with the SHRC InterAction Action Plan Review Group (Review Group), was commissioned by the Scottish Government to take forward a consultation and engagement exercise on a potential financial compensation/redress scheme for individuals who experienced abuse in care in Scotland, as defined by the Terms of Reference of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI).
The InterAction Action Plan Review Group is a national stakeholder group. It includes representation from survivors, survivor support organisations, service providers, the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC), the Scottish Government, CELCIS and Social Work Scotland. The Group monitors the implementation of the Action Plan for Justice for Victims of Historic Abuse of Children in Care.
Progress has been made in taking forward a number of the commitments in the Action Plan for Justice for Victims of Historic Abuse of Children in Care, for example, the Apologies (Scotland) Act 2016, the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017 and Future Pathways, Scotland’s in care survivor support fund in addition the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. However, there are many reasons why victims/survivors may not be able to access civil justice and a financial compensation/redress scheme would provide a core element of the broader reparation package for victims/survivors of abuse in care; without which, access to a financial compensation route for some victims/survivors will remain denied.
The consultation was open from 4 September 2017 until 17 November 2017 for all victims/survivors of historical abuse in care, as defined by the Terms of Reference of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. There were 181 responses to the consultation, mostly from victims/survivors, but also including some submitted on behalf of a victim/survivor or a deceased victim/survivor, or on behalf of a support organisation.
A financial compensation/redress scheme for victims/survivors of abuse in care in Scotland would offer an alternative route for those who are unable to, or choose not to, pursue financial compensation through existing routes, such as civil damages or the criminal injuries compensation scheme.
The key focus of the consultation and engagement exercise was a national consultation with victims/survivors. In addition, information was gathered on selected financial redress schemes established in other countries, and engagement with residential and foster care providers, and other professional groups took place to gain their views.
Between 2012 and 2014 CELCIS worked in partnership with Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) through an InterAction process to develop the Action Plan for Justice for Victims of Historic Abuse of Children in Care. Recommendations made by the SHRC Action Plan form the basis of the Scottish Government's commitments to address the needs of survivors.