Date: 23rd October 2018
QUARRIERS REITERATES UNRESERVED APOLOGY TO SURVIVORS OF ABUSE
Quarriers, one of Scotland’s leading health and social care charities, has reiterated an unreserved apology to survivors of abuse as Phase 3 of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry begins in Edinburgh today (Tuesday 23rd October 2018).
Phase 3 is looking at residential child care establishments run by non-religious and voluntary organisations including Quarriers.
Alice Harper, chief executive of Quarriers, said: “Quarriers repeats its unreserved apology to survivors of abuse while in our care.
“We have welcomed the establishment of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry since the outset and fully support this process which allows the survivors of abuse to be heard. For our part, we will participate in an open and transparent manner, as we have done since the start, to help the Inquiry achieve its aims.”
Kate Dowdalls QC on behalf of Quarriers read an opening statement to the Inquiry:
“On behalf of Quarriers, I am instructed first to reiterate the unreserved apology that was offered to survivors of abuse on 31 May 2017, at the outset of the hearings during Phase 1 of this Inquiry. Quarriers acknowledges that children were subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse whilst in their care. It is acknowledged that abuse occurred across generations at Quarriers Village. Quarriers acknowledges that there were shortcomings in its historical policies and practices which did not prevent abuse from occurring. I will say some more about the general themes of abuse and where practices did not work later in this submission.
“Since it was formed in 1871, the organisation now known as Quarriers has provided residential care for over 30,000 children. The objective of the founder, William Quarrier, was to provide a better life for children who were destitute or alone. The organisation provided homes and education for children, originally for orphans but then to any child in need of care.
“The majority of children were cared for in cottages at Quarriers Village, near Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire. The village officially opened in 1878.
“William Quarrier’s village was intended to provide childcare in an environment designed to replicate, so far as possible, normal family life. Children lived in groups in large houses (known as cottages) where they were looked after by a married couple or by a single housemother and an assistant.
“Quarriers Village played a significant role in childcare in Scotland during the 20th century. It was a large establishment intended to recreate an actual village with 43 cottages, a school, a church and a hospital amongst other buildings in a 40 acre rural location. The site was extended around the turn of the 19th Century. In a documentary from the 1970s it is described as the largest children’s home in Western Europe.
“The number of children requiring care of the sort provided at Quarriers Village reduced over time. In the 1980s the number of children cared for at Quarriers Village rapidly diminished until in 1989 there was only one child remaining. Since 1990 Quarriers has provided care and support services to both adults and children at Quarriers Village and elsewhere through more specialised services.
“Although most of the children in Quarriers’ care were looked after within Quarriers Village, the organisation also ran other residential childcare services. This case study will also consider the services at Overbridge, Southannan School and Seafield School. I will briefly describe those establishments now.
“Overbridge, in Glasgow, was a hostel for working young men between 1938 and 1965. It also acted as an administrative centre for the receiving of children being admitted into Quarriers care. Between 1965 and 1985 it operated as a children’s home. A child of former houseparents has been convicted of offences against other children, committed when he was a child and his parents were employed at Overbridge. Quarriers extends an unequivocal apology to the survivors of that abuse.
“In the 1970s Quarriers began to diversify the services it provided. In 1978 Quarriers opened Southannan School in Fairlie, Largs. That was a residential school providing more specialised education and care to children who were not considered to be adequately catered for in the mainstream education and care systems.
“The project which was begun at Southannan then moved to Seafield School, Ardrossan in 1996. The school closed in June 2014.
“The processes and procedures in place at these establishments will also be scrutinised during this case study, and Quarriers welcomes the opportunity to assist in that process.
“In its opening statement last May, Quarriers pledged to participate fully in the Inquiry process. Quarriers welcomes the opportunity afforded by the Inquiry to investigate what shortcomings or flaws in its historical policies and practices might have contributed to the creation of an environment where vulnerable children were subjected to abuse by the people responsible for caring for them. In its closing statement during that phase of the Inquiry, Quarriers undertook to carry out work, which had already begun, on the identification, recovery, collation and review of its historical records, with a view to filling in gaps in information and assisting the Inquiry with its work.
“Since then, a team has been recruited by Quarriers to work on the identification and recovery of archived material, including children’s records. Amongst other documentation several hundred sets of children’s records have been reviewed and complaints and allegations of abuse recorded within them have been identified and notified to this Inquiry. In addition, material has been recovered that gives some better insight into the standards of care provided to children, the policies and procedures adopted by Quarriers and the flaws and failures in its past processes and practices. Documents have been provided to the Inquiry as requested and every possible step has been taken to respond quickly and fully to requests for information. Quarriers has welcomed the opportunity to help the Inquiry with its work, and continues to do so.
“So far as possible no stone has been left unturned in looking for missing records. Despite the extensive searches already carried out, there are a number of documents which Quarriers simply has not been able to find. Those include the punishment books or logs which were maintained by houseparents in individual cottages and other documents of an organisational nature which Quarriers no longer has. The Quarriers team was, however, able to recover documents from the Scottish national archives relating to inspections of Quarriers Village from 1961 onwards which have been provided to the Inquiry and which Quarriers hopes will help to inform the work of this Inquiry in relation to Quarriers.
“On the basis of the information we have, seven former employees of Quarriers have been convicted of offences relating to the sexual, physical and emotional abuse of 23 children while those children were in the care of Quarriers between 1955 and 1981. One further employee was convicted but had his conviction overturned on appeal. As mentioned earlier, one child of houseparents was convicted of abuse of other children at Overbridge.
“Many others have reported that abuse took place.
“The findings on the nature and extent of abuse which occurred at Quarriers will, of course, be a matter for the Inquiry Chair. It is likely that during this Case Study, evidence will be heard and records will be considered from which there will emerge a number of recurring themes. The Chair and others who have been closely following the progress of this Inquiry may recognise certain themes already identified in the evidence heard by the Inquiry in relation to other establishments. They include accounts of:
- Physical abuse – including disproportionate or unjustified physical punishment and physical assault.
- Sexual abuse.
- Peer abuse.
- Responding to bed-wetting with punishment or humiliation.
- Force feeding.
- Emotional abuse including being demeaned, belittled, depersonalised and isolated.
“From the records and other documents that have been reviewed as part of this process, and which will form part of the evidence, it is already apparent to present day Quarriers that in many respects, the processes and procedures adopted by the organisation during the period from the 1930s to the 1980s simply were not good enough.
“There will be evidence that from the 1990s policies, practices and procedures improved. The policies, practices and services provided by present day Quarriers now bear little resemblance to those that existed during the era of Quarriers Village. Quarriers apologises in relation to any deficiencies in its historic practices and procedures that contributed to children in its care suffering abuse. A number of deficiencies in relation to historic practices and procedures have been identified during the process of gathering information to assist this Inquiry. Those will be addressed in more detail in evidence by organisational witnesses from present day Quarriers as well as in closing submissions once all of the evidence has been considered.
“This case study will also consider Quarriers’ response, from approximately 2000 onwards, to allegations of non-recent abuse. It is acknowledged that this is a matter of particular interest to some survivors. During this Case Study the Inquiry will hear evidence that will provide an explanation of the context in which Quarriers was operating at that time and the reasons why the public apology issued in 2004 was framed in the way it was.
“During this Case Study, the Inquiry will hear evidence from many witnesses, including survivors, former employees and current staff, Quarriers current CEO and a previous CEO. It is not the intention of Quarriers to challenge directly the detail of the evidence of any witnesses through cross examination of them, but it may seek the assistance from time to time of Inquiry Counsel (as during the evidence of previous witnesses) where there is a need to check, clarify or test evidence, and will comment on evidence in final submissions. The final analysis of the evidence is, of course, a matter for the Inquiry Chair.
“Quarriers remains committed to assisting the Inquiry with its work and welcomes the opportunity to hear the evidence of survivors and others. The present day Quarriers organisation remains committed to providing the highest possible standards of care and support to the vulnerable adults, children and young people who benefit from its services.”
Quarriers would urge anyone who suffered abuse while in its care to come forward and contact the Police or Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.
Notes to editors:
- Quarriers was founded in the late 19th Century by William Quarrier, a shoe retailer from Glasgow. From the 1870s he built the Orphan Homes of Scotland in Bridge of Weir, which were home to up to 1500 children at a time.
- In total, over 30,000 children passed through the charity’s doors with orphans and destitute children cared for in family type “cottages” overseen by house-parents.
- Historical allegations of abuse at Quarriers Homes were made and subsequently, seven former employees of Quarriers were convicted of offences relating to the sexual, physical and emotional abuse of 23 children while in care between 1955 and 1981. Quarriers co-operated fully with authorities and will continue to do so.
- Today, Quarriers is one of Scotland’s leading health and social care charities, supporting thousands of people every day through over 100 services across Scotland, working with adults with a disability, children and families, young homeless people, carers and people affected by epilepsy.
Issued on behalf of Quarriers by the BIG Partnership.
For further information, please contact:
Neil Gibson – 0141 333 9585/07980 924838, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kay McCarthy – 0141 333 9585/07736 774338, email@example.com