New training for prosecutors in historical sexual abuse cases
Prosecutors are to be given ‘bespoke’ training in how to deal with historical sexual abuse within institutions, Holyrood can reveal.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is in the process of drawing up detailed training amid an increase in the number of cases being reported.
It comes as survivors sit down this week with representatives from institutions and government to finalise an Action Plan on Justice for Victims of Historic Abuse of Children in Care.
The process, which is being led by the Scottish Human Rights Commission, is designed to ensure acknowledgment of and apologies for historic abuse of children in care as well as access to justice and reparation.
“One particular area we’ve had a lot of discussions about was building up an expertise to deal with historical sexual abuse which occurred within an institution,” the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, told Holyrood.
“What we’re in the process of doing is drawing up very detailed bespoke training for our investigators and prosecutors to be able to bring an expertise to that. That’s an area which I think we really need to gear up [for] and get better at ourselves to be able to recognise that and deal with it because it comes with challenges.
“You’re dealing with things that happened many, many years ago where the perpetrators live abroad, they may be retired, they may suffer from health problems, they may be unable to stand trial, [it’s] difficult to trace persons [or] witnesses in these cases.”
Mulholland added: “What we need to do is be alive to how we deal with historical sexual abuse in institutions and see whether there is any psychology attached to it, is there a nuance in delayed disclosure, that type of stuff. That’s what we’re currently gearing up to be able to deal with because we recognise that we’re seeing quite a few of these cases now and we need to be able to deal with them properly.”