What is the Inquiry about?
The Inquiry has been set up to investigate the abuse of children in care in Scotland or where the care was arranged in Scotland.
The details of what the Inquiry is investigating are set out in our Terms of Reference here. They include the nature and extent of abuse of children in care in Scotland, the failures of those with legal responsibility to protect children in care from abuse, whether the failures have been addressed already and whether further changes are needed.
The Terms of Reference were set by Scottish Ministers before the Inquiry started, and revised slightly in November 2016. The Inquiry has no power to investigate and/or report on anything that is not within its Terms of Reference.
What is the remit of the Inquiry?
The remit of the Inquiry means those matters that the Inquiry must look into. The Inquiry cannot consider any matters which are not within its remit. Its remit is set out in the Terms of Reference, which can be found here.
What are "the Terms of Reference"?
The Terms of Reference set out the matters the Inquiry must consider. The Inquiry cannot look at anything outside its Terms of Reference. The Terms set out the Inquiry’s timescale and give it the power to make recommendations. The Terms of Reference were decided by the Scottish Ministers before the Inquiry started work.
You can find the Terms of Reference here
Why were the Terms of Reference changed in November 2016?
Setting, or changing, the Terms of Reference is a matter for the Scottish Ministers.
The change which was announced in November 2016 clarified that the Inquiry could consider abuse of children who were ‘in care’ when they were abused, even if they were not actually in the place they were cared for when the abuse took place. This could mean in practice considering the abuse of a child in care who was abused when at a weekly community-based club.
Where can I find the Inquiry's Terms of Reference?
The Inquiry's Terms of Reference can be found here.
What does "a statutory inquiry" mean?
A statutory inquiry is a public inquiry set up by Scottish Ministers under specific inquiries legislation (also known as “statutes”).
The inquiries legislation sets out what an inquiry can and cannot do, and sets down some details of how it should operate. An inquiry has the power to force people and organisations to provide evidence. An inquiry should normally hold its hearings in public where possible, but may hold private hearings. The report of an inquiry must be presented to the Scottish Parliament.
What time period will the Inquiry cover?
The Inquiry covers events within living memory up until 17 December 2014.
What is meant by "in care" for the purposes of the Inquiry?
“Care” is defined in our Terms of Reference. It means residential care or foster care. The term doesn’t include children who were living with their families or other relatives.
What types of abuse is the Inquiry investigating?
“Abuse” is defined in detail in our Terms of Reference. It most often means sexual or physical abuse, but may include other forms of abuse such as emotional abuse, neglect and medical experimentation.
What can the Inquiry do?
The Inquiry has the power to investigate and report on the matters set out in its Terms of Reference. We do this by obtaining and hearing evidence, making a public record of all our findings and by making recommendations.
Can the Inquiry award compensation to a person who has been abused?
The Inquiry cannot award compensation to anyone.
Can you guarantee that the Inquiry will help deliver justice for survivors of child abuse?
The Inquiry will carry out its role, which is to “raise public awareness” of child abuse, “provide an opportunity for public acknowledgement of the suffering” and to provide “a forum for validation”. These phrases come from the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference.
The Inquiry cannot do more than its Terms of Reference. Other forms of justice, including awarding compensation, cannot be delivered by the Inquiry.
How can I take part in the Inquiry?
Please contact the Inquiry if you feel you have evidence to provide. If the Inquiry needs to take your evidence, arrangements will be made to take your evidence in a private session. More information can be provided to you by the Inquiry’s Witness Support team on the process of taking and using your evidence.
You can find out how to get in touch with the Inquiry on the Contact Us page of this website.
The person who abused me has died. Does this mean I can't give evidence to the Inquiry?
No, it does not matter whether the person who abused you is alive or dead. You can still give evidence to the Inquiry if your experiences are within our Terms of Reference.
I'm a family member of someone who was abused. Can I provide evidence to the Inquiry?
You may be able to, particularly if the person who was abused is no longer alive or able to give evidence. Please contact the Inquiry to discuss your situation.
Will the Inquiry have an advisory panel of survivors or relevant experts?
The Inquiry has decided not to have an advisory panel. The Inquiry will instruct professional experts to provide reports and advice on some areas of its work but no decisions have yet been taken about this.
Which institutions or bodies is the Inquiry looking into?
The Inquiry must, according to the Terms of Reference, look at the failures by institutions and bodies which had legal responsibility for the care of children within living memory up to 17 December 2014. The Inquiry must also consider whether the failures have already been addressed by changes made to practice, policy and legislation.
What do you mean by "institutions" and "bodies with legal responsibility"?
These are any organisations which were responsible in law for the care of children in Scotland. They include care provider bodies (such as some religious organisations, trusts, charities and local authorities) and public bodies which supervised and inspected the care providers (such as local authorities, central government and health boards).
What do you mean by "a national record and commentary"?
The Inquiry report will be the record and commentary of the Inquiry. The report will refer to the evidence the Inquiry has heard about abuse of children in care. The report will be published at the end of the Inquiry process.
Can the Inquiry hold people or bodies to account for any failings?
The Inquiry cannot find a person guilty of a crime or award compensation. If you want to claim damages you have to go to court. So far as criminal proceedings are concerned, they are brought by Scotland’s prosecution authorities.
But, the Inquiry can make findings about relevant facts. Those findings may indicate that someone was at fault or committed a crime.
Is the inquiry in contact with other Inquiries in the UK or elsewhere?
Yes because there is much we can and have learned from other inquiries, reviews and reports, both past and present. These include relevant ongoing inquiries in England and Wales, and Australia, and inquires in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Jersey which are now complete or nearing completion.
How can I keep up to date with the Inquiry's progress?
The Inquiry provides regular updates on its progress and rules on its website. www.childabuseinquiry.scot. If you do not have access to a computer, please contact the Inquiry by phone or post and information can be sent to you or provided over the phone.
When did the Inquiry start?
The Inquiry started its work on 1 October 2015.
How long will the Inquiry last?
The Inquiry will report no sooner than October 2019.
Why will the Inquiry take four years and possibly longer?
The four year period has been set by Scottish Ministers in the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference. The Inquiry expects that there will be, over time, a large number of people who want to give evidence to the Inquiry. Time is required to hear and consider all relevant evidence to the Inquiry.
Under what circumstances could the duration of the Inquiry be extended?
The Scottish Ministers would have to give permission to the Inquiry.
When will the Inquiry report?
At its end. Before then the Inquiry needs to hear and consider all relevant evidence and write its report. The Inquiry may also publish interim reports if appropriate.
Will the Inquiry make any conclusions or recommendations?
The Inquiry must make recommendations. It is tasked to do so in the Terms of Reference.