How do I contact the Inquiry?
The Inquiry (“SCAI”) can be contacted:
- by post at PO Box 24202, Edinburgh, EH3 1JN
- by email for general inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contacting the Witness Support Team
If you would like to talk to someone about giving evidence to the Inquiry, or have a question about any stage of the process of giving evidence, you can contact the Inquiry’s Witness Support Team. The Inquiry’s Witness Support Team are available as follows:
- email at email@example.com
- Freephone 0800 0929300. The phoneline is open Monday to Friday, 1000-1600.
Find out more information about the Inquiry
The Inquiry’s website, containing information including its latest news, guidance and rules, is at www.childabuseinquiry.scot
Role of the Inquiry
What is the Inquiry about?
The Inquiry has been set up to investigate the nature and extent of the abuse of children in care in Scotland.
The details of what SCAI is required to investigate are in our Terms of Reference here. Those Terms of Reference were set by the Scottish Ministers and the Inquiry has no power to change them or to investigate and/or report on anything that is not covered by them.
Can I take part in the Inquiry?
Please contact the Inquiry if you think you have relevant evidence to offer. More information can be provided to you by the Inquiry’s Witness Support team on the processes we use to gather and use your evidence.
You can find out how to get in touch with the Inquiry in the Contact Us section of this website.
If I give evidence, can I be anonymous?
The Chair has issued a “General Restriction Order” granting anonymity to a wide group of people. If you are not protected by it, you may qualify for a specific restriction order to protect your identity. You would need to make a specific application. For more information about restriction orders, see Restriction Orders - Protocol and Form — Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
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 require it to make recommendations. Please see the following link - Terms of reference — Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
The Terms of Reference were set by Scottish Ministers before the Inquiry started, and revised slightly in November 2016. The Terms of Reference were revised again in June 2018. The changes were for clarification and to recognise that, given the nature and extent of the Terms of Reference, it is not realistic to require the Inquiry to issue its final report by a specific date. The final report will be issued “as soon as reasonably practicable ”. In the meantime, the Inquiry has been publishing the Chair’s findings in relation to each case study  and will continue to do so.
 Terms of Reference paragraph 8.
 See, for example, Case Study findings in relation to the provision of residential care for children by the Daughters of Charity, the Sisters of Nazareth, Quarriers, Aberlour and Barnardos, the Christian Brothers, the Benedictines, and the Marist Brothers; also those in relation to the response of Scottish Government to Petition 535.
I have been told that the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is "a statutory inquiry". What does that mean?
A statutory inquiry is a public inquiry set up, if in Scotland, by Scottish Ministers, under the Inquiries Act 2005 (“the 2005 Act”). The 2005 Act provides a comprehensive framework which includes giving the Chair wide powers to enable the Inquiry to be conducted appropriately. Some of the Chair’s duties are stated in the 2005 Act. The powers of Scottish Ministers in relation to a public inquiry are also stated there, as are certain duties.
Being a statutory inquiry, the Chair also has the powers and duties set out in the Inquiries (Scotland) Rules 2007 (“the 2007 Rules”) and follows those rules in conducting the Inquiry.
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 time period will SCAI’s investigations cover?
SCAI is directed, by its Terms of Reference, to investigate the abuse of children in care in Scotland over the period from within living memory to 17 December 2014.
What types of abuse is the Inquiry investigating?
SCAI is investigating all forms of abuse including physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
Can the Inquiry award compensation or redress payments to a person who has been abused?
The Chair has no power to award compensation nor has she any power to award or be involved in administering, deciding about or making redress payments. The Inquiries Act 2005 expressly prohibits the Chair from ruling on or awarding compensation.
The operation of the redress scheme is carried out by Scottish Government and Redress Scotland. Scottish Government is responsible for the administration of the scheme and Redress Scotland is responsible for making determinations in response to applications for redress scheme. The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is wholly independent of both and is not able to have any involvement in the redress scheme.
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 when in care as a child. Can I provide evidence to the Inquiry?
You may be able to do so. Please contact the Inquiry to discuss your situation.
How much will the Inquiry cost in total?
It’s not possible to provide a figure at this stage. However, the Chair is responsible for making all decisions in relation to the procedure and conduct of the Inquiry and has regard to the need to avoid unnecessary cost when making all such decisions.
Does the Inquiry publish its costs?
Yes. It publishes its expenditure each quarter - Costs — Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
Will the Inquiry make any conclusions or recommendations?
The Chair must and will make recommendations. The Terms of Reference require her to do so.
The Terms of Reference requires the Inquiry to create "a national record and commentary on abuse of children in Scotland ". What does that mean?
It refers to the record of all the work and outputs of the Inquiry that will, at its close, be transferred to the National Records of Scotland. Please see the following link to read our Terms of Reference - Terms of reference — Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
Can SCAI only consider abuse that happened in Scotland?
No. SCAI also considers abuse experienced by children in care outwith Scotland if their care was arranged in Scotland.
Can the Inquiry find that a crime was committed?
No. The Chair has no power to find that any crimes were committed.
Who is in charge of the Inquiry, how was the Chair selected and what is the role of the Chair?
The Chair is in charge of the Inquiry. The Chair is The Right Honourable Lady Smith. The Scottish Ministers appointed the Chair.
The Chair has a wide range of responsibilities in relation to all the Inquiry’s activities. They include making all the decisions about the procedure and conduct of the Inquiry, ensuring its independence, presiding over public hearings, considering the evidence presented to the Inquiry, deciding what facts are established by the evidence, deciding what recommendations need to be made, and publishing her findings and reports.
Who works in the Inquiry?
The Chief Executive is responsible for the day to day running of the Inquiry. Operational teams include a witness support and statement taking team and other teams involved in the Inquiry’s administration. The Inquiry has a legal team (including advocates, solicitors and paralegals) and a research team.
Is the Inquiry in contact with other Inquiries in the UK or elsewhere?
Yes. We have done and continue to do so. It enables learning to be shared amongst similar inquiries and the Chair considers that to be in the public interest. Inquiries we have engaged with include those in England, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
How long will the Inquiry last?
The Chair will issue her final report and recommendations as soon as is reasonably practicable. The Terms of Reference set by Scottish Ministers are so wide that it is not possible to be precise about the time required to investigate thoroughly and respond properly. It is not realistic to give a specific date.
Who is funding the Inquiry?
The Inquiry is funded by the Scottish Government. However, being a public inquiry, it operates entirely independently of Government.
Does the Inquiry have a Freedom of Information policy?
The Inquiry is not a public authority for the purposes of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. As a result, the Act does not apply to the Inquiry. Any requests for information made to the Inquiry under that Act will not be considered.
Work of the Inquiry
How does the Inquiry conduct its work?
The Inquiry works in as open and transparent a way as possible. Detailed rules (known as Protocols) and guidance about how it operates are available here Procedures — Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry or by post from the Inquiry.
What should I do if I have information or documents that may be useful to the Inquiry?
The Inquiry would like to hear from you. You can get in touch by post, email or phone - Contact Us
If you think you have documents of interest to the Inquiry, please let us know. You can contact us about this by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will discuss with you what documents you have and whether we need to see them.
How does the Inquiry gather its evidence?
The Inquiry asks all those who suffered abuse and others who may have evidence in relation to the matters covered in its Terms of Reference to contact the Inquiry. Witnesses who have evidence to offer about being abused when in care as a child (known as “applicants”) may be offered a “private session” . For what happens at a private session, see Private session — Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry . Other witnesses may be interviewed. Written statements are prepared after private sessions and interviews and reviewed with the witnesses before they are asked to sign them. Witnesses may also provide their own written statement. If you were abused in an establishment which is not on our list of current investigations the Inquiry is still keen to take evidence from you.
In relation to establishments which we are investigating, the Inquiry also obtains other forms of evidence, including historical records, documents and expert reports. The Inquiry usually requires the organisation(s) responsible for those establishments to provide evidence about a number of matters including their knowledge of abuse having taken place. Where an establishment is included in a case study, the Inquiry usually also requires witnesses who are or were involved in the organisation to appear at public hearings to give evidence.
What will the Inquiry do with the evidence it receives?
All relevant evidence will be considered, analysed and used as appropriate including during hearings, when preparing findings, when preparing any interim reports and when preparing the final report and recommendations.
Will there be a public record of the evidence received by the Inquiry?
Witness statements referred to and/or read in during hearings will normally be published on the website as will transcripts of the oral evidence given by witnesses. The Chair’s case study findings, any interim reports and her final report and recommendations will also be published. Some parts of these documents may be blacked out (“redacted”) , for example to protect the identities of those who are entitled to anonymity.
Can a person be a witness if they have already been involved in a claim for compensation or a criminal trial about abuse?
Will anyone be forced to give evidence to the Inquiry?
We hope all witnesses will co-operate with the Inquiry, but the Chair of the Inquiry can issue an order requiring a person to provide evidence by, for example, attending a hearing to do so, or providing a written statement. Failure to comply with such an order may be a criminal offence.
Will the Inquiry pass on information which I provide to the police?
We have to share the identity of anyone who we are told has abused children with the police. Any information we receive which suggests that anyone is at risk of harm or that there is a risk to their life is also shared with the police. For more information on when we report information to the police see our Protocol on Restriction Orders
Will witnesses be entitled to legal representation?
Most witnesses will not require legal representation to participate in the Inquiry. Nor is it necessary for an applicant to have a lawyer with them at a private session.
Any witness may, however, wish to instruct a lawyer, at their own expense, if they want to do so.
The Inquiry cannot provide legal representation or help a witness to choose or instruct a lawyer.
Will support be given to survivors when giving their evidence?
Yes. The Inquiry has a Witness Support team who have been trained to provide appropriate advice and assistance to witnesses through all stages of their engagement with the Inquiry. The Witness Support team can be contacted on 0800 0939 200.
What is a "core participant"?
A core participant is a person or organisation that has a significant interest in the whole work of the Inquiry or an important aspect of it. Guidance on how to apply to be a core participant is available on the website - Core participants — Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
Who is a core participant to the Inquiry?
For the current list of core participants see the core participant page of our website - Core participants — Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
If a core participant or any other person is represented by a lawyer, will the Inquiry pay their fees?
Core participants and others can apply for an award for funding for legal representation. The rules that apply and an application form can be found at Protocol - cost-of-legal-representation on the website and may also be obtained by post from the Inquiry.
What is a public hearing?
SCAI investigates the wide range of matters covered by its Terms of Reference. Having considered the outcome of those investigations including all the documentary evidence recovered and the statements provided, SCAI decides which aspects are so important that they ought to be presented at a public hearing during which witnesses will give oral evidence and statements may be read into evidence. For information about our current investigations, see: Investigations — Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and for witness statements, Witness Statements — Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
I'm a member of the public and I want to watch the Hearings. How do I do this?
The public will usually be able to attend public hearings. For more information see our Practice Guideline on Hearings
Please see our section on Covid-19 for the current Covid-19 measures in place for those taking part in our Hearings, Hearings - Covid19 — Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
Will the hearings be televised or livestreamed?
There are no plans for either at present. Any media organisation wishing to do so will require to make a specific application and if the Chair is considering granting it, she will not do so without first consulting those likely to be participating at the time of any filming.
What is "Leave to Appear" ?
Persons or organisations wishing to participate in and/or be represented at any time during a case study should apply for “Leave to Appear”. Further details are provided here
I'm a journalist. Do I need to be accredited in order to observe proceedings?
Yes. Please contact our media team at 3x1 to obtain accreditation. Contact details for 3x1 are shown at the bottom of this website.
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