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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry Publishes Third Case Study Findings

Quarriers, Aberlour and Barnardos

 Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry Publishes Third Case Study Findings

Children were physically, emotionally and sexually abused in harsh regimes

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has today 7 January published its findings into residential institutions run by Quarriers, Aberlour Child Care Trust, and Barnardo’s (QAB) between 1921 and 1991. They conclude that children did suffer physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

During the case study, the Inquiry considered evidence about the nature and extent of any abuse of children in care at institutions run by the QAB providers at various locations across Scotland.

The Inquiry also examined any systems, policies and procedures in place at these institutions, and how these were applied.

Lady Smith, Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, said: “Children were physically abused, emotionally abused, and sexually abused in harsh, rigid regimes. Many children did not find the warmth, care, and compassionate comfort they needed. Scant regard was paid to their dignity.

“The previous lives of the children who came into the care of the QAB providers had all been blighted in some way, whether by being abused in the family home, the death of one or more parent, parental illness, families who could not cope with caring for them, abandonment, or by other similar circumstances.

“The QAB providers could have made a real and positive difference to every child, but that did not happen. For many, further damage was inflicted upon them.”

The 43 day case study took place between 23 October 2018 and 12 February 2019, during which time the Inquiry heard evidence from 110 witnesses.

Lady Smith added: “The QAB providers now recognise and accept that there was widespread abuse of children in their establishments. They have all apologised for it.

“A particularly frank and clear apology was offered on behalf of Quarriers by their current Chief Executive. Counsel for Barnardo’s and for Aberlour indicated that those providers, having heard evidence in this case study, also tendered their apologies.”

Lady Smith will take these findings into account when she analyses all the evidence gathered by the Inquiry and decides what recommendations to make within the final report.

Applicants and other witnesses continue to come forward to the Inquiry with relevant evidence about the care provided by QAB and this will be considered as part of the continuing process.

The findings from the QAB case study can be read in full on the Inquiry website:





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About the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry



About the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

The overall aim and purpose of this Inquiry is to raise public awareness of the abuse of children in care, particularly during the period covered by the Inquiry. It will provide an opportunity for public acknowledgement of the suffering of those children and a forum for validation of their experience and testimony.

The Inquiry will do this by fulfilling its Terms of Reference which are set out below.

  1. To investigate the nature and extent of abuse of children whilst in care in Scotland, during the relevant time frame.
  2. To consider the extent to which institutions and bodies with legal responsibility for the care of children failed in their duty to protect children in care in Scotland (or children whose care was arranged in Scotland) from abuse, regardless of where that abuse occurred, and in particular to identify any systemic failures in fulfilling that duty.
  3. To create a national public record and commentary on abuse of children in care in Scotland during the relevant time frame.
  4. To examine how abuse affected and still affects these victims in the long term, and how in turn it affects their families.
  5. The Inquiry is to cover that period which is within living memory of any person who suffered such abuse, up until such date as the Chair may determine, and in any event not beyond 17 December 2014.
  6. To consider the extent to which failures by state or non-state institutions (including the courts) to protect children in care in Scotland from abuse have been addressed by changes to practice, policy or legislation, up until such date as the Chair may determine.
  7. To consider whether further changes in practice, policy or legislation are necessary in order to protect children in care in Scotland from such abuse in future.
  8. To report to the Scottish Ministers on the above matters, and to make recommendations, as soon as reasonably practicable.


  1. ‘Child’ means a person under the age of 18.
  2. For the purpose of this Inquiry, “Children in Care” includes children in institutional residential care such as children’s homes (including residential care provided by faith based groups); secure care units including List D schools; Borstals; Young Offenders’ Institutions; places provided for Boarded Out children in the Highlands and Islands; state, private and independent Boarding Schools, including state funded school hostels; healthcare establishments providing long term care; and any similar establishments intended to provide children with long term residential care. The term also includes children in foster care.  The term does not include: children living with their natural families; children living with members of their natural families, children living with adoptive families, children using sports and leisure clubs or attending faith based organisations on a day to day basis; hospitals and similar treatment centres attended on a short term basis; nursery and day-care; short term respite care for vulnerable children; schools, whether public or private, which did not have boarding facilities; police cells and similar holding centres which were intended to provide care temporarily or for the short term; or 16 and 17 year old children in the armed forces and accommodated by the relevant service.
  3. “Abuse” for the purpose of this Inquiry is to be taken to mean primarily physical abuse and sexual abuse, with associated psychological and emotional abuse. The Inquiry will be entitled to consider other forms of abuse at its discretion, including medical experimentation, spiritual abuse, unacceptable practices (such as deprivation of contact with siblings) and neglect, but these matters do not require to be examined individually or in isolation.