Non-Recent child abuse (historical abuse)

At CELCIS, we have over a decade of experience working alongside survivors, a range of organisations who in the past or currently provide child care services, the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Government.

Scotland has seen a number of policy, legislative and practice developments relevant to acknowledgement and accountability for survivors of abuse in care. We have been involved in a range of research and activity in this area, including supporting opportunities for engagement with survivors of abuse in care to help gather and present views to inform and influence progress.

We recognise that some people who have experienced abuse in care may identify themselves as victims and others identify as survivors. CELCIS uses the term survivor. Scottish Human Rights and other early research and campaigning work used this language and it continued to be a preference by those involved through our initial CELCIS engagement.

Supporting a Human Rights Approach

In February 2012, the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) commissioned CELCIS to deliver the ‘InterAction’ project. This project, proposed by SHRC, used a human rights based approach to consider to agree and co-ordinate steps to implement the recommendations in their Human Rights Framework for Justice and Remedies for Historic Abuse of Children in Care, in securing an effective remedy for survivors of historical abuse.

The approach was innovative and involved a series of meetings and events, called ‘interactions’ facilitated by CELCIS over the course of 2012 – 2014. These activities brought together, for the first time, survivors, child care service providers from local authorities, the third sector and religious orders, Scottish Government and others.

The Interactions delivered the Action Plan for Justice for Victims of Historic Abuse of Children in Care - the purpose of the Action Plan was to agree and coordinate steps to implement the recommendations in the SHRC Human Rights Framework. Information on the development of the Action Plan and the subsequent work of the strategic planning group can be found on the SHRC website. The Action Plan is set out across two outcomes:

  • Acknowledgement of historic abuse of children in care and effective apologies are achieved.
  • Accountability of historic abuse of children in care will be upheld, including access to justice, effective remedies and reparation.

The planning group that helped steer the InterAction process, was renamed the InterAction Action Plan Review Group and maintained a role monitoring the implementation of the action plan. The InterAction Action Plan Review Group included independent survivors, survivor representatives of survivor organisations, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, Social Work Scotland, care provider representation, the Scottish Government and CELCIS.

Progress has been made across most of the commitments in the Action Plan, including the creation and passing of The Apologies (Scotland) Act 2016 and, The Limitation (Scotland) (Childhood Abuse) Act 2017 into law and the establishment of a support service for adults who experienced abuse in care (Future Pathways), The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and more recently, Scotland’s Redress Scheme.

Drawing on our professional experience and relevant evidence, CELCIS provided professional and secretariat support to the Interaction Action Plan Review Group for over 10 years, with Professor Andrew Kendrick, Emeritus Professor, University of Strathclyde as the Group’s Independent Chair for most of that period. Recognising the progress of developments, the Review Group’s work ended in March 2022. A summary of the Group’s work can be read in a letter to the Deputy First Minister of Scotland.

Evaluation, research and engagement

CELCIS has promoted and supported engagement with survivors of abuse in care through the development and delivery of several relevant national consultations. This, coupled with our evaluation and research, produced a series of reports including:

Redress developments

In January 2017, CELCIS was commissioned by the Scottish Government to work in partnership with the InterAction Action Plan Review Group to take forward a consultation and engagement exercise on a potential financial compensation/redress scheme for people who experienced abuse in care in Scotland.

We used a collaborative approach to developing the process consultation and engagement activity, questionnaire content design, test materials, and to help promote and deliver survivor engagement sessions.

Reports and recommendations

The InterAction Plan Review Group’s recommendations were informed by drawing on key messages from the consultation with survivors, with reference to international evidence, the engagement with residential and foster care providers and other professional groups as well as the work to date in Scotland in relation to the Action Plan on Justice for Victims of Historic Abuse of Children in Care.

The Group recommended that the Scottish Government commit to establishing a financial compensation/redress scheme, and to introduce an advanced payment scheme (for ill and elderly survivors) as quickly as possible. The following reports were presented the Deputy First Minister in September 2018:

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

The Scottish Government accepted the recommendations and drew on this early work and findings when developing the pre-legislative consultation for the redress legislation. Whilst the Interaction Action Plan Review Group had no decision-making role, it continued to represent survivor views throughout subsequent developments.

The Advance Payment Scheme for terminally ill and survivors aged 68 years opened in April 2019 and operated until Scotland’s Redress Scheme opened in December 2022. The scheme was established under the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Act 2021 and is for adults who experienced abuse as children in relevant residential care settings in Scotland before 1 December 2004 and, in some circumstances, where the survivor has died, their next of kin.


To talk to us about our work, email

If you are a survivor, further information on national initiatives can be found at:

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

Future Pathways support service

Scotland’s Redress Scheme

Immediate help

If you need immediate help, please contact one of the following mental health support services:


Breathing Space

Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone and web based service for people in Scotland.

Helpline: 0800 83 85 87

Monday to Friday: 6pm – 2am

Friday to Monday: 6pm – 6am



Samaritans offers support round the clock.

Helpline: 08457 90 90 90 24 hours a day, 365 days a year