Abuse victims made to wait years for justice

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VICTIMS of historic child abuse have hit out after waiting two years for reparation since recommendations were made to the Scottish Government.

Adults who were abused physically and sexually in children’s homes over decades want justice in the criminal courts, the right to pursue organisations in the civil courts, and compensation from ministers.

Up to now, all the Scottish Government has been willing to offer them is a national confidential forum, where they will have the opportunity to air their grievances.

However, there is a commitment to talks in February with the survivors, church and council institutions which ran the children’s homes, and the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC), which made recommendations to ministers on how they should make reparation two years ago.

Survivors say that the situation in Scotland contrasts badly with action taken by other countries.

Following abuse scandals in Ireland, mainly in church-run organisations, almost £650 million was paid out, with the institutions responsible for making compensation payments.

In Scotland, it is thought that many hundreds of people may have suffered systematic abuse in more than 100 care institutions in the last 70 years.

Helen Holland, who has petitioned the Scottish Parliament on behalf of survivors, said: “It’s so slow it’s unbelievable. Every other country has dealt with this, but we’re still waiting.

“The kind of inquiries we have had have been so diluted, I would not even call them inquiries.”

The speed of the response to the allegations made against Jimmy Savile, along the political attention and the resources thrown into it, has added salt to their wounds, say victims.

Ms Holland said: “I think it’s been a right slap in the face for survivors. [David] Cameron has talked about Bryn Estyn cases [in North Wales], but he has not talked about Scotland.” A spokeswoman for the SHRC said: “Survivors of historic abuse deserve justice, acknowledgement and accountability.

“The commission has consistently stressed that the State should deliver this as quickly and effectively as possible.

“Scottish ministers have committed to engaging with this process and we are confident that will lead to further steps towards securing justice for victims.”

The Scottish Government has not yet committed to either compensation or altering the time bar.

A spokesman said: “A Scottish Government consultation ran between July and October 2012 and legislation for a National Confidential Forum will be included as part of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill.

“It is intended that the National Confidential Forum will be open to all adults who were in institutional care as children.”