The Inquiry needs to take evidence from a range of witnesses.
A witness could be someone who has knowledge of the abuse of children in care, for example staff members who worked in residential care establishments.
A witness could also be someone external who may be able to provide evidence about a care establishment, for example, a social worker or an inspector.
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.
You may wish to apply to give evidence as a witness, to share your experiences with us. The Inquiry may also contact you if we think you may have evidence that could assist our investigations.
It may be difficult 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 Inquiry takes a trauma informed approach to how we gather evidence.
The witness support team provide assistance to witnesses at each stage. This could be at first point of contact, helping witnesses prepare for giving or reviewing a statement, or, giving evidence at a public hearing.
It is the witness support team's role to help witnesses understand the Inquiry process.
If you would like to talk about coming forward to give evidence, or if you have been asked to give evidence, you can contact the witness support team:
- call 0800 0929 300 (Freephone), Monday to Friday, 1000-1600;
- email at email@example.com;
- write to SCAI, PO Box 24202, Edinburgh, EH3 1JN.
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.
If you wish to give evidence to the Inquiry 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 for some information about what you wish to tell the Inquiry about, where, and when, it happened.
You can contact the witness support team (hyperlink) who can take this information over the phone. Or, you can fill in a short form [link to OW application 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.
When the Inquiry meets with witnesses, we usually call this an 'interview', At an interview we will ask you about a range of topics, and write down what you tell us in a statement.
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 interview will probably be in a hotel meeting room near you. Interviews can cover a wide range of topics, depending on what evidence you may be able to share with us. The witness support team will help you by letting you know what the Inquiry wishes to ask you about, in advance of your interview.
After your interview, 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 witnesses who have given a statement will be asked to give evidence at these public hearings. Whilst many witnesses agree to give oral evidence voluntarily, the Chair can order a witness to give evidence at a public hearing.
The witness support team will help support you to give evidence at a hearing, and will answer any questions that you may have. You may also bring a supporter with you.