Scottish police get reports of historic child abuse in football

Police in Scotland have said they have received reports of historic child abuse within football.

They are the latest force in the UK to confirm they are looking into allegations following claims of sexual abuse in England by former players.

A UK hotline set up for sexual abuse victims in the wake of the claims has received more than 250 reports since launching less than a week ago.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: "We can confirm we have received reports in connection with non-recent child abuse within football.

"We are working with both Operation Hydrant and the NSPCC to ensure there is a co-ordinated UK police response. It would be inappropriate to comment further."

Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal, Police Scotland public protection, said: "We will continue to work with partners, including the National Police Chiefs Council through Operation Hydrant, the Scottish Football Association and the NSPCC to ensure a co-ordinated police response is in place and that we maintain an accurate picture of child abuse investigations.

"Speaking out about any form of child abuse is incredibly difficult and disclosures are often made many years after an incident took place.

"Police Scotland will listen to any such disclosure, regardless of the passage of time, and will investigate as well as work with partner organisations who have access to advocacy and support during the process of disclosure and investigation.

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

"Details of such organisations can be accessed via Survivor Scotland.

"Keeping children and young people safe is a top priority for Police Scotland and everyone has a role to play in protecting the country's children. Where reports are made, we will assess any current risks and ensure appropriate action is taken."

Last week the Scottish Football Association (SFA) joined the campaign supporting players who suffered abuse by coaches to speak out in the wake of revelations south of the border.

Fraser Wishart, chief executive of players' union PFA Scotland, said it would be "naive to think that these allegations are unique to one part of the UK" and vowed to protect any players that come forward.

The Scottish Government was earlier urged by a Conservative MSP to launch a "focused investigation" into abuse of children in sports clubs.

Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton said there have been pleas for the SNP administration to launch a wider inquiry covering areas such as sport as the sector is not included in the current historical abuse inquiry.

The Government has already faced criticism that the inquiry - looking into treatment of children who were in residential care, those who had long-term stays in hospital, boarding schools and those under foster care - is too narrow.

"The current inquiry risks not going far enough in helping victims of child abuse," Ms Hamilton said.

"I am disappointed that the Scottish Government is not going forward with an investigation into the abuse in sports clubs."

Mr McDonald said: "We do take seriously any indications or reports of sexual abuse in sporting bodies and ... we will continue to monitor the number of calls that are made to the hotline and determine alongside other bodies whether any further action is required in this specific area.

"But that does not affect the remit of the historic abuse inquiry, which has been set by the Deputy First Minister."

SNP MSP Christine Grahame insisted the SFA should not have an investigatory role in any abuse allegations due to potential conflicts of interest.

The minister added: "Anyone who believes they were abused as a child involved in football or has a concern about someone they think was abused should contact police to investigate."

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