Edinburgh secure units scandal: Children's commissioner criticises council

Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner has criticised the city council for failing to carry out an investigation into its secure accommodation five years ago.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 7:58 am
Children's Commissioner Bruce Adamson
Children's Commissioner Bruce Adamson

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A damning report on the city’s two secure units for young people earlier this year found “illegality, maladministration and injustice” dating back more than a decade, but continuing up until 2020.

But Bruce Adamson has written to the Capital’s new education director Amanda Hatton following revelations last week that an inquiry into Edinburgh Secure Services, the section of the children and families department responsible for the secure units, was ordered in 2017 on the authority of council chief executive Andrew Kerr but never took place.

The move followed a case review after carer Gordon Collins was convicted of sexually abusing children at two homes.

Mr Adamson wrote: “We were dismayed to see so many similarities between the issues raised by the most recent investigation and that review report.

“It is right that the council acknowledges that failure to properly respond to the Significant Case Review report five years ago has led to a situation in which children were subject to unacceptable and unlawful conduct.”

In March, Holly Hamilton, one of those sexually abused by Collins while a resident in St Katharine’s secure unit, told the Evening News the latest investigation found many of the same issues as the report on her case 15 years ago. She said: “This has been going on for decades. It just seems to be recommendation after recommendation, every ten years the same recommendations but nothing ever changes. How many generations of broken children does this system need to create?”

The council said it had held a “constructive” meeting with the Commissioner’s office last month. “They welcomed the lessons from the Significant Case Review in 2016/17 have been embedded into our action plan. The Commissioner’s office were also keen to learn more about our proposals for independent scrutineers and visitors for our young children which would be a first in Scotland. Going forward we intend to meet regularly to ensure an independent oversight of our plan and its implementation.”

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