Inquiry Into Abuse In Care

17 December 2014, 15:41 | Updated: 17 December 2014, 15:43

A public inquiry is to be held to examine historic cases of child abuse in care, the Scottish Government has announced.

Education Secretary Angela Constance said the probe was necessary to help fully understand what happened and in turn "ensure a brighter future for every child''.

The inquiry will have the power to compel witnesses to attend and give evidence, she confirmed.

Ms Constance also pledged that where crimes are uncovered, the "full force of the law'' would be used to bring those responsible to justice.

The Scottish Government had been considering if a national inquiry into historic abuse cases was the correct way to help survivors.

Announcing its decision, Ms Constance said: "This Parliament must always be on the side of the victims of abuse. We must have the truth of what happened to them and how those organisations and individuals into whose care the children were entrusted failed them so catastrophically.

"And to get to that truth we will be establishing a national public inquiry into historical abuse of children in institutional care.''

She continued: "To ensure justice is done I can tell this chamber that where crimes are exposed the full force of the law will be available to bring perpetrators to account.''

The Education Secretary said Scotland's top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, had been consulted and that "measures will be put in place to ensure that the inquiry does not compromise or interfere with ongoing criminal investigations and prosecutions''.

She stated: "As a society we have an opportunity to confront the mistakes of our past and to learn from them.

"It will not be easy but only by shining a light on the darkest recesses of our recent history will we fully understand the failures of the past, enabling us to prevent them happening again and ensure a brighter future for every child and young person in Scotland, today and in the future.''