CAMPAIGNERS have claimed the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is “barely scratching the surface” in investigating historic abuse in care.

Janine Rennie, chief executive of Falkirk-based counselling charity Wellbeing Scotland, said her own organisation’s files contained allegations made by past residents of upwards of 140 children’s homes.

Meanwhile statistics suggest that over the period covered by the inquiry tens of thousands of children in care are likely to have been abused, she said, and claimed Wellbeing Scotland alone was in touch with 1,500 people who had suffered as children in care.

However the child abuse inquiry plans to investigate only 60 homes and is thought to be in touch with around 300 survivors, she claimed.

“The inquiry is saying it will investigate 60 homes but we are dealing with more than double that and that is only sampling a third of our records,” she said. “They are only scratching the surface.”

The claims came as survivors of childhood abuse in state care held an event in Glasgow’s George Square calling for more of those affected by abuse to come forward.

They also follow a week of evidence at the child abuse inquiry in which former Scottish Government Chief Social Work Adviser Professor Angus Skinner told its chair Lady Smith that the scale of abuse had been vastly underestimated, admitting: “We just didn’t believe that there could be so much.”

Ms Rennie said many of those in touch with Wellbeing Scotland (formerly Open Secret) were unwilling to participate in the inquiry. “We are trying to get as many people as possible to come forward, but they lack trust in the Scottish Government, she said. “There is still a perception the inquiry isn’t independent. We have four years to get more people involved, or the opportunity will be lost.”

Dave Sharp, who is alleged to have been physically abused in childhood while living in in the notorious St Ninian’s home run by the Christian Brothers in Fife, said survivors from across the UK had come together to encourage fellow abuse victims to come forward.

“The Scottish Government has not been encouraging people enough. They have been discouraged by negativity around the inquiry. We want to see more investigation into historical sex trafficking and abuse,” he said.

A Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry spokesman said 69 institutions are being examined as part of its initial investigations.

He said: “The Inquiry is undertaking a far-reaching public awareness campaign and is working closely with a number of organisations to encourage those with relevant information to come forward.

"We have been pleased with the response to date but as work of the Inquiry progresses, we continue to actively encourage anyone who has relevant information to get in touch.”