Scottish Government agree to extend deadline of historic child abuse inquiry

A far-reaching inquiry into historical allegations of the abuse of children in care in Scotland is being given more time to complete its work.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has agreed to a request from the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry chair, the Right Honourable Lady Smith, to remove the requirement from the inquiry’s terms of reference to report to Ministers within four years.

Instead the inquiry will be asked to report as soon as reasonably practicable.

The inquiry is examining historical allegations of the abuse of children in care covering the period within living memory of anyone who suffered such abuse, no later than December 17 2014.

The first phase of oral hearings began in May 2017 in Edinburgh and phase two hearings are now under way.

Mr Swinney said: “It is clear the inquiry is working hard and good progress is already evident. A large number of applicants have already come forward and continue to do so, it is vital that the inquiry hears from as many survivors and witnesses as possible.

“That is why I have agreed to Lady Smith’s request to revise the original terms of reference to allow more time for the inquiry to complete its work, taking into account its remit, timescale and large number of institutions identified.

“It takes considerable courage for survivors to approach the inquiry and talk about their experiences of being in care as children. By raising awareness of historic abuse they are helping to uncover the nature and extent of the issue and the failings which allowed it to happen.

“We are determined to ensure lessons are learned to protect children in future and provide survivors with the support they deserve.”

The inquiry will 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, and in particular to identify any systemic failures in fulfilling that duty.

It will also 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.

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