A NORTH Ayrshire Children’s Unit has been identified as an area of investigation for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

Redheugh Adolescent Unit in Kilbirnie, which was run by the Salvation Army, was last week announced as one of 17 institutions which will be investigated by the Inquiry, which is being led by Lady Smith.

Redheugh closed its doors 24 years ago back in 1994 and the building has since been converted into flats.

Anyone with any information is being urged to come forward and Lady Smith released a statement, the Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, said: “Please would anyone who has any relevant information about any of these institutions contact the Inquiry.

“It does not matter whether you have already made a report to the police or to anyone else and it does not matter whether or not you have been involved in any other investigation. You can still talk to us and we want to hear from you.”

Lady Smith added: “I am well aware that it can be difficult and very emotional to talk about experiences in care and I want to take this opportunity to give an assurance that we have a dedicated witness support team here who will help and support anyone providing evidence to us. They will do so throughout the process.”

Redheugh is the only Ayrshire institution on the latest list of places and these will be added to the current list of 69 institutions previously identified, including St Mungo’s, Mauchline, St Columba’s, Largs, Barrholm List D School, Largs and Kerelaw Secure Unit, Stevenston.

A spokesperson on behalf of The Salvation Army said,

“We are aware of the Scottish Child Abuse inquiry and we will fully comply with the requests from the inquiry. In 2008 we worked with the police to provide evidence in the case of former employee and manager of Redheugh Adolescent Unit, Mr Stewart Burgess who was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison.”

At the conclusion of the trial in 2008, we issued the following statement, ‘Today’s verdict clearly confirms there was a breach of trust and abuse of power during Mr Burgess’s employment as a senior house parent within The Salvation Army’s Redheugh Adolescent Unit. As a church and charity we are not immune to the evils in society which prey on vulnerable people. We are deeply concerned that these criminal acts took place. Our prayers and heartfelt sympathies are with the victims of such evil acts, we hope the conclusion of this trial will mark the beginning of a healing process for everyone impacted by this court case.”

“The caring landscape has changed considerably since 1982, when the offences were committed, we take child protection very seriously and our own child protection policy, based on those of the Home Office, was introduced in 1998 and further strengthened in Jan 2008.”