Inquiry chair: Lady Smith
The first sitting of the Scottish Inquiry into Historical Abuse of Children in Care is scheduled for the new year.
The preliminary hearing will take place at Parliament House in Edinburgh on January 31.
It will include an update on current investigations and set out how evidence will be taken. No witnesses will be called.
Chaired by Lady Smith, the inquiry will take four years and identify the extent of abuse and any systemic failures.
During the hearing, Lady Smith is expected to explain the inquiry’s approach to its work and set out how people can participate.
The announcement comes after the Scottish government resisted calls to have the inquiry extended to include child abuse allegations in Scottish football.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said extending the inquiry further would render it “completely unwieldy” while Deputy First Minister John Swinney said survivors groups did not want the current inquiry’s timescale extended.
The Scottish Football Association (SFA) has since announced that it is to launch a review into abuse in football.
Earlier this month former Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill asked: “How many public inquiries does there need to be? And does a formal inquiry properly address the wider aspects of what went wrong in our society?”
He wrote in The Herald that a commission might be a “better course of action” which could “listen and learn”.
Mr MacAskill added: “It could allow for individuals to detail the suffering they experienced and the effects it had upon them. For organisations to atone for failures without fear of it being viewed as an admission to be used against them. It would be able to range far and wide and listen to all who want to have their say on what happened to them. It would be free to look at the wider faults in our society, that turned a blind eye to what was happening and a deaf ear to the cries. It, too, would be complex but I fear formal legal inquiries will be both restrictive and the source of endless rancour.”
He said “collectively” children had been let down, adding: ” Prosecutions there must be. But equally there must be a mechanism for listening to victims long ignored so we can address what went wrong in our society.
Police Scotland has received 109 referrals involving cases of child sexual abuse in football since a helpline was set up a month ago.
The force has now established a major inquiry team to deal with the referrals.
They have come via the children’s charity NSPCC, the SFA and directly to police.
The force said it was unable to say how many individuals were affected until they had examined each referral.
It said every complainer was being spoken to by trained officers from the Child Protection Unit.
The SFA said it was “imperative that we take the necessary time and guidance” to ensure its review complemented the work of Police Scotland.
It said it has taken initial steps towards establishing an appropriate scope and terms of reference for the review.
And it pledged to ensure “organisational learning and development” is at the forefront of its responsibilities as the governing body for the national game”.
It added: “The initial scoping phase will take place with involvement from all stakeholders into the new year, and once established we will comment further at the appropriate time”.
SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: “Police Scotland has reaffirmed that it is the investigatory authority regarding reports of child sexual abuse in football. It is therefore crucial to draw the distinction between their ongoing investigation and what lessons football can learn from historic allegations.” SOURCE