Justice and support for child abuse survivors

We are supporting survivors of child abuse by:

We have also changed the law to remove a barrier which prevented child abuse survivors from accessing civil justice. The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017 came into force on 4 October 2017.

Information on accessing support can be found on mygov.scot

Financial redress for survivors of child abuse in care

The Deputy First Minister of Scotland made a statement to Parliament on 23 October 2018 in which he committed to establishing a financial redress scheme for survivors of abuse in care. He also offered an unreserved and heartfelt apology on behalf of the Scottish Government to all those who were abused as children while in care.

He was responding to recommendations submitted to him on 5 September by the InterAction Action Plan Review Group. The main recommendation was that a redress scheme is set up by legislation before the end of this Parliamentary term in March 2021. The group also recommended that advance payments are made as soon as possible to survivors who may not live long enough to apply to the statutory scheme due to either ill health or age. These recommendations have been accepted. The other recommendations were about important aspects of scheme design (such as approach to payments, and what will be required by way of evidence) and these will be given full consideration in the work that lies ahead. 

The Review Group’s recommendations and accompanying reports can be found on the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) website, along with wider information about the approach taken, which included a national consultation with survivors, international research, and high-level engagement with providers of care services and other relevant professional groups.

View the full text of the Deputy First Minister’s statement and apology. There is also a financial redress for survivors of child abuse in care: information note available.

Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017

We introduced the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill in November 2016 to remove a barrier preventing child abuse survivors from accessing civil justice. It fulfilled a recommendation from the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017 came into force on 4 October 2017.

The Act:

  • removed the three-year limitation period for personal injury actions where the person raising the action was a child (under the age of 18) at the time the injury occurred, and the act or omission that caused the child's injuries constituted abuse
  • removed the limitation period whether the abuse occurred before or after new provisions came into force
  • applies to abuse that took place (or continued) on or after 26 September 1964 – the changes made by the Act do not apply to those survivors whose rights to compensation have been extinguished through the law of prescription

Support organisations and initiatives

Survivor Support Innovation and Development Fund

We set up the Survivor Support Innovation and Development Fund to support development and innovation that enables service providers to expand their capacity and capability by partnering with local statutory and/or other third sector services. This ensures better integration of services for survivors.

View a list of survivor support organisations funded in 2018 to 2019.

Innovation and Development Fund Network

The Innovation and Development Fund Network brings together voluntary organisations at regular networking events to share information on project development, which in turn promotes wider learning and improved ways of working.

These events provide opportunities for working together to build capacity for delivering good quality services, and for engaging with policy development activities such as developing a national training framework.

The Network aims to meet at least three times a year. The last meeting took place on 3 October 2018.

National Trauma Training Framework

In May 2017 we worked with NHS Education for Scotland (NES) to publish The Transforming Trauma Knowledge and Skill Framework. This work was commissioned to support the development of trauma-informed services, in line with priorities to support survivors of childhood abuse.

The Framework has wider application in all forms of psychological trauma and is aligned with the Programme for Government commitment to prevent and address adverse childhood experiences.

To address a lack of quality training resources, NES proposed a three-year training programme, led by clinicial psychologists and co-designed with partners and those with lived experience of trauma.

On 20 June 2018, the Minister for Mental Health announced a three-year investment of £1.355 million to support the programme. We will work with NES to firm up commitments and prioritise the training package, with a view to publication.

Future Pathways: Scotland's in-care survivor support fund

We opened the In Care Survivor Support Fund (ICSSF) in September 2016 and renamed it Future Pathways in February 2017.

Future Pathways aims to offer a person-centred, outcomes-based approach that identifies what matters to survivors. It is working with a range of organisations from the statutory and voluntary sectors, and is keen to talk to organisations who currently provide support to survivors and are interested in offering their services to the fund.