National Confidential Forum - A consultation on the creation of a Forum for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse in Residential Care

Consultation on propopsals to establish a National Confident Forum for Adults who were in care as children.



1. This consultation asks for your views on the Government's proposals to establish a forum giving adult survivors abused in residential care as children the opportunity to describe their experiences to people who understand about such abuse in residential care. This forum will be known as the National Confidential Forum. Detailed definitions are provided at Annex A.

2. In 2004, the First Minister offered 'a sincere and full apology on behalf of the people of Scotland' to those who had suffered abuse in residential care homes in the past. This was followed by the launch of the SurvivorScotland Strategy in 2005 which has helped to fund the development of services for survivors. The Scottish Government also commissioned an independent investigation into historical abuse. A report 'Historical Abuse Systemic Review' by Tom Shaw, published in 2007, noted that many former residents wanted to have their experiences as children in a residential establishment heard and recorded - a means of listening to and acknowledging what they need to tell.

3. In 2008 the Scottish Government carried out a consultation on an Acknowledgment and Accountability Forum for adult survivors of childhood abuse in care. In September 2009 Ministers agreed to an independent Pilot Forum, Time to be Heard (TTBH), to hear testimony from adults who had been in residential childcare, many of whom had been abused as children.

4. The aims of the pilot were:

  • To listen to former residents
  • To acknowledge their experiences
  • To provide a historical record
  • To signpost available services for survivors and support, advocacy, advice and information about these services
  • To test out a particular model for listening to former residents

5. In TTBH 98 former residents were listened to with respect and in good faith. They could bring with them a friend, family member or someone else to provide support at the hearing. Institutions and alleged or convicted abusers were not present. Lawyers were not involved and the Pilot Forum carried out no investigations.

6. Everyone who decided to participate in the Pilot Forum was offered support, help and advice before, during and after giving testimony - and was provided with full information about the Pilot Forum and other options for survivors of in-care abuse - through specialist services that were local to them. This support was commissioned through the In Care Survivors Service Scotland.

7. The TTBH Report was published in February 2011 by the Chair, Tom Shaw The Report concluded that a forum should be available to all adults who had been cared for in Scotland in certain types of childcare provision at any time in the past. This conclusion was based on the participants' responses, the observations of the TTBH Chair and Commissioners and the independent evaluation of the process. The Report considered that a forum offered the prospect of acknowledgement of harm done, could bring health benefits to many former residents and might improve the experience of residential care for children today. This conclusion was supported by an independent process review of TTBH involving feedback from 65 participants. For more information on the process review see

8. In March 2011 Ministers made a commitment to establish an independent forum based on the model and informed by the experience of TTBH

Scottish Human Rights Framework

9. In 2009 the Scottish Government commissioned the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to produce a Human Rights Framework to develop a rights based approach to adult survivor policy for those who were abused in care as children. This was published in February 2010 - and the Scottish Government provided an interim response in June 2010 and a full response in February 2011, after the TTBH report -

10. The recommendations in the SHRC Framework are being taken forward separately as part of the SHRC Interaction. The Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland is leading this process. Ministers have agreed that the Scottish Government will participate in the Interaction. We are not therefore asking for views on the SHRC Framework as part of this consultation.


11. We have established a Reference Group to advise on issues for this Consultation, for the legislative framework and for effective implementation of the National Confidential Forum. This group includes representatives from In-Care Abuse Survivors (INCAS), In Care Survivors Service Scotland (ICSSS), Former Boys and Girls Abused of Quarriers (FBGA), Who Cares (Scotland), the Care Leavers Association, the Association of Directors of Social Work (ADSW), Educating through Care Scotland (EtCS), the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS), the Care Inspectorate, the Mental Welfare Commission, the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), an expert on homelessness and Roshni (a national organisation that seeks to ensure the safety of children, young people and adults within the minority ethnic communities).

12. A Survivor Stakeholder Group has also been set up to ensure that as many survivors as possible can have their voices heard. Further information on both these groups is available from the SurvivorScotland website -

13. We are also holding small events for survivors to seek responses on the questions in this consultation and any other views on the Forum. Further information can be found at or you can contact a member of the SurvivorScotland Team.


Email: Linda Watters

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