Inquiry Ordered Into Child Abuse At Kerelaw

An independent inquiry was today ordered into institutional abuse at a Scottish school. The full extent of the abuse at Kerelaw school in Ayrshire was revealed by The Herald earlier this year.

{mosimage}Around 40 care workers abused youngsters in their care, and could still be working with children. A “far larger” number of staff knew about the treatment but did not intervene.

Maltreatment by workers at the school included physical assault, the excessive use of restraint, and sex abuse.

Two former teachers were jailed last year for their part in the scandal. The school was closed in January 2005.

Today Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government, acting together, set up a wide-ranging independent inquiry into events at Kerelaw. It will be chaired by Eddie Frizzell, a former top civil servant.

SNP minister Adam Ingram told the Scottish Parliament that he wanted the inquiry:

  • To secure comprehensive insight into the circumstances that led to the abuse that occurred at Kerelaw.
  • To examine Glasgow City Council’s stewardship of Kerelaw School.
  • To consider the steps taken by Glasgow City Council subsequent to the closure of Kerelaw School.
  • To identify recommendations relevant to ensuring that the contributory factors which led to abuse at Kerelaw never happen again.
  • To identify any other issues which the Kerelaw inquiry considers relevant to the safe care of young people in residential settings.

A consultation on secondary legislation to establish a new vetting and barring system to protect children and vulnerable groups was also launched today.

Mr Ingram said: “The young people who attended Kerelaw were amongst the most vulnerable in society. They deserved dedicated support and care that would help them overcome the challenges they faced in life and set them on the path to a positive future.

“It is unacceptable that this was not the experience for some pupils. These young people were let down. It is the role of government at local and national level to protect our young people.

“That is why this government and Glasgow City Council are working together to learn the lessons. We owe it to those young people who have suffered abuse to examine, fully and independently what insights we can secure from Kerelaw.

“Former staff members should also have the opportunity to have their say. Both Glasgow and the government will co-operate fully with the inquiry and are committed to learning from any failings exposed through this independent and rigorous inquiry.”

Glasgow City Council Leader Stephen Purcell said: “This council has already actively addressed issues on effectiveness of arrangements for safeguarding accommodated children, identifying concerns and managing complaints and allegations However, we now have an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the circumstances around abuse at Kerelaw.

“An inquiry securing the participation of former pupils, staff, the inspectorates and stakeholders will assist in identifying any further measures to help better protect the children of Glasgow and Scotland.

“I am absolutely confident this inquiry will yield recommendations that should ensure the safe care of young people in residential settings in Scotland.”

Mr Frizzell, former head of the Scottish Government’s Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning Department, said: “I was pleased to accept the invitation from the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to chair the independent inquiry into the abuse of children at Kerelaw.

The people of Scotland must be able to have confidence in the public authorities entrusted with the care of vulnerable children, and the Inquiry provides an opportunity to learn from past events at Kerelaw and prevent abuse occurring again in residential care in Scotland.”