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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry Announces Preliminary Hearing


The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has today (14 December) announced that its preliminary hearing will take place on 31 January 2017 at Parliament House in Edinburgh.


At the preliminary hearing, Inquiry Chair Lady Smith will explain the Inquiry’s approach to its work and will provide an update on the Inquiry’s current investigations. She will set out the Inquiry’s key procedures including how people and interested parties may participate in the Inquiry and the different ways in which the Inquiry is gathering evidence. Information will also be shared about the proactive communications campaign to drive public awareness of and engagement with the Inquiry.  


As this hearing will deal with procedural matters only, no witnesses will appear and no evidence will be heard.


Members of the public are welcome to attend the preliminary hearing. However, seating capacity is limited for health and safety reasons and as a result access will be granted on a first come, first served, basis. Please note that the courtroom where the preliminary hearing will take place is not accessible by wheelchairs. Anyone with mobility issues should contact the Inquiry in advance. This will not be the Inquiry’s permanent hearings venue.


Anyone wishing to attend the preliminary hearing should come to the main reception at Parliament House where they will be directed to the hearing room.  The preliminary hearing will begin at 11am and is expected to run for approximately one and a half hours.


For those not able to attend the preliminary hearing, a recording of the full event will be available on the website,




For media enquiries please contact:

3x1 Public Relations

T: 0131 225 7700 / 0141 221 0707




Notes to Editors


There are three ways to contact the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry;

By post to:

PO BOX 24085, Edinburgh, EH7 9EA


By email to:


By telephone at:

Freephone 0800 0929 300


The phone line is open during the following times:

Monday - 10:00 to 16:00

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday - 08:30 to 18:30

Friday - 10:00 to 16:00


The overall aim and purpose of the Inquiry is to raise public awareness of the abuse of children in care, particularly during the period covered by the Inquiry.  It will provide an opportunity for public acknowledgement of the suffering of those children and a forum for validation of their experience and testimony. The Inquiry will do this by fulfilling its Terms of Reference which are set out below.

  1. 1.To investigate the nature and extent of abuse of children whilst in care in Scotland, during the relevant time frame. 


  1. 2.To 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 (regardless of where that abuse occurred), and in particular to identify any systemic failures in fulfilling that duty.  


  1. 3.To create a national public record and commentary on abuse of children in care in Scotland during the relevant time frame. 


  1. 4.To examine how abuse affected and still affects these victims in the long term, and how in turn it affects their families.  


  1. 5.The Inquiry is to cover that period which is within living memory of any person who suffered such abuse, up until such date as the Chair may determine, and in any event not beyond 17 December 2014.  


  1. 6.To consider the extent to which failures by state or non-state institutions (including the courts) to protect children in care in Scotland from abuse have been addressed by changes to practice, policy or legislation, up until such date as the Chair may determine.  


  1. 7.To 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.  


  1. 8.Within 4 years (or such other period as Ministers may provide) of the date of its establishment, to report to the Scottish Ministers on the above matters, and to make recommendations.  



1. ‘Child’ means a person under the age of 18.

2.  For the purpose of this Inquiry, “Children in Care” includes children in institutional residential care such as children’s homes (including residential care provided by faith based groups); secure care units including List D schools; Borstals; Young Offenders’ Institutions; places provided for Boarded Out children in the Highlands and Islands; state, private and independent Boarding Schools, including state funded school hostels; healthcare establishments providing long term care; and any similar establishments intended to provide children with long term residential care. The term also includes children in foster care.

The term does not include: children living with their natural families; children living with members of their natural families, children living with adoptive families, children using sports and leisure clubs or attending faith based organisations on a day to day basis; hospitals and similar treatment centres attended on a short term basis; nursery and day-care; short term respite care for vulnerable children; schools, whether public or private, which did not have boarding facilities; police cells and similar holding centres which were intended to provide care temporarily or for the short term; or 16 and 17 year old children in the armed forces and accommodated by the relevant service.

3. “Abuse” for the purpose of this Inquiry is to be taken to mean primarily physical abuse and sexual abuse, with associated psychological and emotional abuse. The Inquiry will be entitled to consider other forms of abuse at its discretion, including medical experimentation, spiritual abuse, unacceptable practices (such as deprivation of contact with siblings) and neglect, but these matters do not require to be examined individually or in isolation.