The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has today, 17 February, published Lady Smith’s findings in relation to the provision of residential care by The Christian Brothers at St Ninian’s Residential Care Home, Falkland, Fife, between 1953 and 1983.
She concludes that the regime at St Ninian’s exposed children to risks of sexual, physical, and psychological danger. Further, for many children, those risks materialised.
During the case study, the Inquiry considered evidence about the nature and extent of abuse of children in care at St Ninian’s. The Inquiry also examined the systems, policies and procedures in place, how these were applied and whether the abuse arose from systemic failures.
Lady Smith, Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, said: “The overall view I formed of St Ninian’s was depressing. It was a place where the Brothers who were perpetrators of abuse could pursue their abusive practices with impunity.
“Abusive Brothers had unrestrained access to the vulnerable children they wished to target. That such abuse was possible for virtually the entirety of St Ninian’s existence represents serious failures in oversight, management, and governance.
“Fundamental deficiencies in training, and a serious lack of relevant life experiences, conspired to enable dreadful abuse of children, who were supposedly being cared for by the Order, to occur.
“Children were betrayed by serious breaches of trust and, for many, it caused lasting damage.”
Hearings in the case study took place between 4 June 2019 and 16 July 2019, during which time the Inquiry heard evidence from 42 witnesses.
These findings are the first in a series of three sets of case study findings in which the residential care of children provided by male religious orders in Scotland is examined.
Lady Smith added: “The Order offered a genuine apology to survivors of abuse at St Ninian’s while recognising that “sorry” has very little content of itself, and that what really matters is admission and recognition of what happened and that what happened was wrong.”
Lady Smith will take these findings into account when she analyses all the evidence gathered by the Inquiry and decides what recommendations to make in her final report.
Applicants and other witnesses can continue to come forward to the Inquiry with relevant evidence about the care provided by The Christian Brothers and this will be considered as part of the continuing process.
The findings from the Christian Brothers case study can be read in full on the Inquiry website.