Abuse vic­tims and SFA dis­cuss terms for probe

In­ves­ti­ga­tion: Foot­ball chiefs look to ap­point suit­able chair

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - News - BY PAUL WARD

The Scot­tish Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (SFA) has met vic­tims of sex­ual abuse in the sport to of­fer sup­port and set out the terms of an in­de­pen­dent re­view of his­tor­i­cal in­ci­dents.

The sport has been rocked by claims from for­mer play­ers across the UK that they were abused by peo­ple in po­si­tions of au­thor­ity, and Po­lice Scot­land re­vealed last month it is in­ves­ti­gat­ing more than 100 re­ports of child sex­ual abuse in foot­ball.

A num­ber of Scot­tish clubs have started in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions while the SFA is set­ting up an in­de­pen­dent re­view into al­le­ga­tions fol­low­ing pres­sure from var­i­ous quar­ters, in­clud­ing Deputy First Min­is­ter John Swin­ney and for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter Cathy Jamieson, for Scot­tish foot­ball chiefs to act.

The gov­ern­ing body is re­cruit­ing an in­de­pen­dent chair to lead the re­view and hopes to make an ap­point­ment by Fe­bru­ary but the SFA’s child well­be­ing and pro­tec­tion man­ager Donna Martin has al­ready con­vened meet­ings with sur­vivors of child sex­ual abuse.

The meet­ings were de­scribed as “an open fo­rum to hear their per­spec­tives, pro­vide sup­port and to help shape and in­flu­ence an ap­pro­pri­ate terms of ref­er­ence for the as­so­ci­a­tion’s in­de­pen­dent re­view”.

The SFA said child well­be­ing and pro­tec­tion re­mains its high­est pri­or­ity.

Ms Martin said :“The on­go­ing di­a­logue we have had with sur­vivors has con­trib­uted sig­nif­i­cantly to defin­ing the terms of ref­er­ence for the in­de­pen­dent re­view.

“We re­ceived a wide range of feed­back from the sur­vivors, in­clud­ing the time­frame for com­ple­tion of the re­view, that there should be no limit to the pe­riod of time the re­view examines and that it should en­com­pass all foot­ball in Scot­land.

“It is vi­tally im­por­tant to the Scot­tish FA that all par­ties are sat­is­fied with the con­tent be­fore the re­view pro­ceeds.”

A del­e­ga­tion from the SFA has reg­u­larly met Po­lice Scot­land and third sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions with ex­per­tise in sup­port­ing sur­vivors of abuse.

It said any sur­vivors com­ing for­ward will re­ceive a pro­fes­sional-needs as­sess­ment from a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, who will then re­fer the vic­tim to the ap­pro­pri­ate level of sup­port.

Speak­ing last month, Chief Con­sta­ble Phil Gorm­ley said: “The pro­tec­tion of chil­dren is a cor­ner­stone of our ser­vice and should be a con­cern for all. This is a fast- mov­ing and fluid sit­u­a­tion which re­quires both sen­si­tive polic­ing and strong part­ner­ship work­ing with ad­vo­cacy ser­vices and other statu­tory agen­cies.

“We recog­nise that speak­ing out about any form of child abuse is in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult and dis­clo­sures are of­ten made months or years af­ter­wards.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate that some­times find­ing a safe place to first talk about the ex­pe­ri­ence helps even­tual dis­clo­sure and would en­cour­age any­body who feels this would as­sist to con­tact a sup­port or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“In­di­vid­u­als who dis­close will be heard, th­ey­can be con­fi­dent of the re­sponse they­will re­ceive, we will take all nec­es­sary steps to en­sure sup­port is there and that those re­spon­si­ble for such crime will be the sub­ject of rig­or­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

“It is vi­tally im­por­tant to the Scot­tish FA that all par­ties are sat­is­fied”

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