Apology for victims of institutional care abuse
The Scottish Parliament has heard a ‘sincere and full apology’ made to all people who suffered abuse and neglect while in institutional care in the past.
First Minister Jack McConnell told MSPs said that the victims, now grown to adulthood, had been badly wronged and deserved full recognition of what had happened to them.
The people of Scotland had, the FM said, a duty ‘to address episodes in our history in which we can take no pride’.
The abuse was physical, emotional and sexual and occurred in the very places where they hoped to find love, care and protection and it was ‘deplorable, unacceptable and inexcusable’.
The courts in Scotland are currently in the process of considering a number of cases brought by alleged victims of abuse.
Full statement by the First Minister
Presiding Officer, with your permission I wish to make a brief statement in advance of this afternoon’s debate.
I want to speak on one subject which should unite us, whatever opinions might be expressed in the debate which follows.
I have said often that I am proud to be First Minister of Scotland. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we take pride in our young people.
I believe we are the best small country in the world and I take pride in the way that Scotland has made, and will continue to make, a huge contribution to the world.
But we also have a duty to address those episodes in our history in which we can take no pride.
It is clear that some children were abused in Scottish residential care homes in the past.
Children suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse in the very places that they hoped to find love, care and protection.
Those children, adults today, deserve full recognition by us of what happened to them then. They should not have been abused. They were badly wronged.
Such abuse of vulnerable young people whenever or wherever it took place is deplorable, unacceptable and inexcusable.
Members will be aware that there are litigations currently before the courts, in which these issues are being examined. Those proceedings will establish, in accordance with the law, where responsibility lies, and what should happen as a result.
It would be inappropriate for me to say anything which would cut across the work of the courts, and that is not my purpose here today.
Presiding Officer, we should be grateful to those who, despite their pain, have brought these matters to our attention. And I am grateful to Michael McMahon and the Petitions Committee for sponsoring the debate we will hold this afternoon.
Because of the bravery of those who have suffered abuse, we now know much more about the propensities of some members of our society to abuse children.
There is now a much greater awareness in our society that such abuse of young people did happen, and we know that without the vigilance of all of us, including government and its associated agencies and authorities, it could happen again.
It is that recognition of the potential for abuse that has led to alterations to the statutory and regulatory structure in which establishments operate and how we monitor them.
It would be a mistake for us to try to fit all that happened in the past into the framework of our own knowledge and experience today, but some things are and always have been wrong.
Now that we know what has happened, it falls to us as representatives of the Scottish people to acknowledge it. It is for this generation of the people of Scotland to say quite clearly that it was unacceptable that young people were abused. And it was appalling that they were abused by those trusted with their welfare.
That is why today I offer a sincere and full apology on behalf of the people of Scotland, to those who were subject to such abuse and neglect; who did not receive the level of love, care and support that they deserved and who have coped with that burden all of their lives.
I know that MSPs of all parties are committed to do all we can to ensure no child or young person currently in residential establishments in Scotland suffers abuse.
That is why we are ensuring that inspection, regulation and standards are in place to prevent, detect and deal with abuse. And we are all anxious to do the right thing by the survivors of past abuse.
In the Committee debate that follows this statement, Peter Peacock will set out the proposals that we have been developing with survivors of abuse to support them more effectively in a range of ways and to examine the background of what happened to them.
Presiding Officer, Scotland should be proud of the contribution that survivors of abuse have made to ensuring Scotland today is a better and safer place in the future. They are truly remarkable people who have suffered in ways no one should ever have to suffer.
From today I hope they can continue to move forward in their lives certain in the knowledge that we in this Parliament, on behalf of the people of Scotland, recognise they were wronged and that we will do more to support them in the future than we have ever done in the past. http://www.gov.scot/News/Releases/2004/12/01142431 https://archive.is/cwAmu