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Friday, 16 November 2018

More than quarter of alleged abuse victims made complaints while still in care

Written by Hilary Duncanson

More than a quarter of people who alleged they were abused at a children's home said they had told staff about the attacks while they were still in care, an inquiry has been told.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) heard 164 people complained to police about suffering abuse at Quarrier's Village in Renfrewshire, from the 1930s onwards.

Of those, 42 (25.6%) told officers they had informed staff about the abuse at the time, while they were residing at the village.

In contrast, just eight members of staff told police they recalled children speaking to them about abuse at the establishment, the inquiry heard.

The inquiry in Edinburgh is continuing to hear evidence about residential childcare establishments run by large-scale care providers.

It is currently focusing on Quarriers, which - aside from the late 19th-century village near Bridge of Weir - also had smaller bases in Glasgow and Ardrossan and Largs in North Ayrshire.

The village started to be "wound down" in the 1980s, the inquiry has heard.

Detective Inspector Des McKenna, of Police Scotland, was involved in preparing an overview report for the inquiry about investigations that have taken place over a number of years into allegations of abuse of children at establishments run by Quarriers.

A total of 196 people have complained of abuse across all the Quarriers institutions, he told the probe.

Giving a breakdown of the figures, he said: "At Quarrier's Village, Bridge of Weir, there's 164 complainers identified.

"The age of complainers at the time of the abuse was two to 17, and that was for both sexual and physical abuse."

Discussing the report, James Peoples QC, senior counsel to the inquiry, told the hearing the complainers were both male and female, with slightly more females involved.

The inquiry heard the "vast majority" of complainers were reporting abuse that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, with a "substantial number" also relating to the 1950s.

"They were complaining of a variety of forms of abuse - sexual, physical or indeed both," Mr Peoples said.

Mr McKenna told the hearing 183 individuals were accused of abuse across the various premises, although not all were able to be identified by a full name.

The large majority, 159, were linked to the village, the inquiry heard. Of those, 107 were male and 52 were female, and they were made up of staff members, residents and "external" people.

Mr McKenna went on to discuss what the complainers told police about their conversations with staff about abuse.

He told the SCAI: "There was 42 complainers told police they had told staff about abuse whilst they were in care at Quarrier's Village...

"When you compare that to the total number of complainers identified for Quarrier's Village, which was 164, that equates to 25.6% who said they told staff they were being abused at the time.

"Only eight members of staff recall being made aware of abuse by children, therefore the majority of staff appear to have no knowledge of physical or sexual abuse having taken place."

The inquiry heard how, ultimately, the complaints resulted in 27 reports being submitted to prosecutors.

Of the people reported, 15 ended up at trial or making a plea of guilty at court, high court procurator fiscal Kenneth Donnelly later told the hearing.

Catherine White, a principal procurator fiscal depute, told the probe about the challenges of obtaining evidence from survivors in abuse cases.

She agreed with Mr Peoples' suggestion that many would have a basic mistrust of the authorities.

"Especially in the Quarriers cases because the authorities had let them down. The system had let them down," she said.

She also spoke of past research suggesting that one paedophile will abuse 100 children in the course of their lifetime.

The inquiry, before Lady Smith, will continue hearing evidence on Wednesday.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Nick Mailer / PA Wire.