What's involved

We need to take evidence from people about what happened to them as children in care. We also want to hear from people whose relatives were children in care. We want to listen and learn, and we will make recommendations to try and make sure that children in care are safe in the future.

It may be difficult and very emotional for you to tell us about your experiences. We have a witness support team who help anyone giving evidence to the Inquiry. The team is here to help and support you. We want you to feel safe when you speak to us. 

The process

The Inquiry takes a trauma informed approach to how we gather evidence. Everyone who gives evidence to Inquiry goes through the same process. 

The witness support team provide assistance at each stage, whether applying, giving or reviewing a statement, or giving evidence at a public hearing. 

It is the witness support team's role to help applicants understand the Inquiry process. 

If you would like to talk about coming forward to give evidence, or if you have any questions about the Inquiry, you can:

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can also use: 

  • Contact us through an online BSL interpreter - Contact Scotland (external link)

When you contact us, let us know if:

  • You have any concerns.
  • You have additional support needs that might mean you need to share your experiences in a particular way.
  • English is not your first language.
  • You need special arrangements because you are in a young offenders’ institution, prison or hospital. 

We will need to ask you some basic information such as your name, date of birth, and how we can contact you. We will also need to ask you where you were in care, and when.

If you were not in care but want to tell us about the experiences of your relative who was, we still need basic information about you such as your name, date of birth, and how we can contact you.  We will also need to ask where the person you want to tell us about was in care, and when.

We ask you about the place where you – or your relative – was in care, and when, so that we can make sure that the experiences you want to tell us about are within the limits of what the Inquiry can investigate.

We will not ask you to go into detail about the experiences at this stage. Also, you do not need to provide us with any records about your time in care.

You can contact the witness support team (hyperlink) who can take this information over the phone. Or, you can fill in a short form. We can post or email it to you. 

The witness support team will let you know as soon as possible if we are able to meet with you, and explain to you what happens next. 

If we are able to investigate the experiences you want to tell us about, we will meet with you. This is so that we can ask you about them and write down what you tell us in a statement. The Inquiry usually calls this meeting a ‘private session.’

You can bring someone with you to give you extra support. You can also let the Witness Support Team know if you need other help, like a BSL interpreter.

Usually, three members of the Inquiry team will meet you. The session will probably be in a hotel meeting room near you. The team will help you to talk to them about the experiences you want to tell us about. It is for you to decide how much you want to say.

After your private session, we will write up a witness statement for you.

Once we have drafted your witness statement we will come and meet with you again to go through it with you. We call this meeting a ‘statement review’.

The Inquiry team will work with you to make sure you are content with your statement.  You will be able to make changes to it if you want to do so.  You can take things out or add new information.

Once you are content with the statement, we will ask you to sign it to confirm that it is true and accurate.

Your witness statement is evidence to the Inquiry. You cannot change it or withdraw it once you have signed it. 

The Inquiry holds public hearings so that Lady Smith can hear evidence in public. These hearings are held in the hearings room in our premises in Edinburgh. Members of the public can attend and legal representatives of those taking part in the hearing may be present. Inquiry lawyers will also be present.

Some applicants who have given a statement will be asked to give evidence at these public hearings. If you are asked to give evidence at a public hearing but do not want to, you do not have to do so.

If you do agree to give evidence at a hearing, the witness support team will help you feel safe and will support you. You can also bring a supporter with you.