Sexual abuse in Scottish football: FOI review

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

Information regarding the role of Ministers and the Scottish Government in decision making around historic sex abuse in football and their relationship with Police Scotland on these issues. As well as seeking a review of the answers to specific questions in your original request, you also asked: "During the Covid emergency, not only did the First Minster, but the Health Secretary continually mentioned that they had been in frequent contact with UK ministers. Can you confirm if policing and justice in the UK works in the same manner".


I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed with modifications to some of the answers

The answers to the question in section 5 of the original response made clear that "The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 stipulates that the Chief Constable of Police Scotland is responsible for the policing of Scotland, and is accountable to the Scottish Police Authority for this, rather than to Scottish Ministers directly. These arrangements are in place to ensure public confidence that the police act independently, free from unwarranted Ministerial interference. I hope you will understand it would therefore be inappropriate for the Scottish Government to comment on, or seek to intervene in, the police handling of any individual case".

It is for the above reason that the answers to section 5 in the original request were that the Scottish Government does not hold any information on contact with English police forces or the Home Secretary about the matters in question, nor did it seek legal advice in relation to these matters, nor was there a role for any Minister in making a decision on investigations.

Similarly, the answer to 2.5 is upheld given the relationship between the Scottish Government and Police Scotland as explained above.

The answer to question 3 should be modified to make clear that we have not asked the bodies in question to look into the handling of sexual abuse investigations at Celtic Boys club for the reason set out above, but that the Scottish FA undertook a wide ranging independent inquiry into historical abuse in Scottish football, covering all clubs.

The answers to questions 3.1 and 3.2 should be modified to make clear that we have no plans to instruct Police authorities to instruct an investigation because Sottish Ministers do not direct the Scottish police, and because the Scottish FA have already undertaken the independent inquiry and published the report. As indicated above, the Scottish Government does not administer policing in ScotlandÍž it funds the police through the Scottish Police Authority, and holds the Chief Constable to account for delivery.

Regarding 3.4, no Minister is responsible for this for the reasons set out above regarding the operational independence of the Police from Ministers.

Regarding question 4.1 the answer is upheld - there are no plans at this time to hold a public inquiry. However, we intend to put advice to Ministers on this shortly.

Regarding 4.2, the responsibility for making a decision on whether to hold a public inquiry would likely be made by the relevant Portfolio Minister and/or Cabinet Secretary and potentially the Deputy First Minister and/or First Minister.

Regarding your subsequent query about engagement with UK Ministers, Scottish Ministers do from time to time discuss justice measures that are reserved to the UK, such as counter terrorism.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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