THE cost of the Scottish child abuse inquiry has soared to almost £65 million an increase of £13m from the end of last year, according to the latest figures published today.

The probe racked up more than £3.7 million of spending between October 1 and December 31 last year, taking the total cost to date to just under £64.65million.

At the end of 2021 the total cost came to £51.65million.

The independent inquiry was established by the Scottish Government in October 2015 after a long running campaign by survivors of abuse in residential and foster care.

Chaired by Lady Anne Smith it is examining the abuse of children in care in Scotland, what happened, why and where abuse took place as well as the effects of abuse on children and their families and whether the organisations responsible for children in care failed in their duties. 

It is considering evidence from within living memory up to December 17 2014.

Eight sets of findings have now been published including reports into the abuse of children in homes run by religious orders and other providers. It is due to publish its findings into abuse in boarding schools, and the abuse of children in foster care in the coming months. The inquiry will take evidence on the abuse in secure accommodation later this year.

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It is also considering whether any failures have been corrected and if changes to the law, policies or procedures are needed. A further remit is to create a national public record of the scandal and to examine how abuse affected and still affects these victims in the long term.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Justice Secretary Jamie Greene MSP raised concerns over the mounting costs.

He said: “Everyone values the in-depth investigation into this horrific child abuse – a public inquiry is vital for unearthing the truth of these cases.

“But the ever-mounting costs of the inquiry, which have now stretched to a staggering £65 million, is symptomatic of just how long it is taking to uncover the truth. For the sake of the victims, this must be resolved.

“The SNP have a moral duty to ensure that this inquiry is concluded as efficiently as possible so that the victims can be given full justice from these appalling crimes.”

At the end of the inquiry Lady Smith will publish a report with recommendations and will present the report to the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament.

Last month the inquiry heard that no part of Scotland was “immune” to abuse of children in foster care over more than eight decades.

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The inquiry also heard evidence of deaths in foster care not being properly investigated by the authorities, and that fatalities were accepted as accidents.

In September 2021, the Scottish Government apologised "unreservedly" for what was described as a "woeful and wholly avoidable" 13-year delay in setting up the public inquiry.

Lady Smith had said the government "failed to grasp" the survivors' need for justice.
They were treated as if their views were not worth listening to - just like when they were in care, she added.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney told a hearing in 2020 that former First Minister Alex Salmond had opposed the inquiry being set up while he was in office.

Mr Swinney said there had been a clear division in cabinet over the issue and the inquiry was only set up after Nicola Sturgeon succeeded Mr Salmond.

The inquiry had its original terms of reference changed in 2018 at the request of Lady Smith to allow more time for it to complete its work.

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Public hearings were paused at the height of the Covid pandemic.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) said: “The inquiry continues to make excellent progress towards fulfilling its very wide Terms of Reference.

“This has included 345 days of public hearings to date .

“As part of its extensive remit, SCAI has announced over 100 focused investigations to date and investigations are ongoing. 

“Lady Smith has published eight sets of detailed case study findings to date. In the coming months further case study findings will be published including those relating to child migration and the beginning of a series of findings in relation to boarding schools.

“A case study examining the abuse of children in Foster Care began on 3rd May 2022 and public hearings concluded in December 2022.

“Over seven months, evidence was given by over 250 witnesses, many being able to share their experiences for the first time.

“In excess of 40,000 relevant documents were involved in the case study and evidence from experts, local authorities, independent fostering agencies, foster carers, family members and social workers was also presented.

“This year SCAI will hold public hearings at which further expert evidence will be explored and in relation to its case study relating to the abuse of children in residential accommodation for young offenders and children and young persons in need of care and protection.

“SCAI’s work of investigation and evidence analysis will also continue throughout the year.

“SCAI has committed to publishing its costs on a quarterly basis to ensure it remains open and transparent.

“The Inquiries Act 2005 obliges the Chair to have regard to costs at all times and throughout the inquiry process all efforts have been and are made to ensure the Inquiry delivers best value.

“The inquiry continues to actively encourage anyone who has relevant information to get in touch.”

The Scottish Government said previously said the inquiry “will continue until such time as it has completed its work and a final report can be published”.

A spokesman said it was “one of the widest ranging independent statutory public inquiries undertaken in Scotland, and is a vitally important step in recognising the harm that has been caused to survivors of abuse in care”.

He added: “Whilst the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is funded by the Scottish government it operates, like any other public inquiry, independently of government.”