Information for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse

Police Scotland is committed to thoroughly investigating all reports of child abuse regardless of where or when this occurred and regardless of who was involved. We understand that speaking out on any form of abuse can be incredibly difficult and disclosures are often made years after the incident took place. For some people it is only now with hindsight that they understand that what had happened was abuse.

We will work with our partners throughout any investigation to ensure that you are directed to support which is tailored to meet your individual needs as an adult survivor of abuse. Our priority throughout is your welfare and wellbeing.

What can you do now?

You can report the abuse you have suffered to Police Scotland, our priority is to provide a service to people so we can support you through the criminal investigation process, whilst also identifying and assisting any other person deemed to be at risk.

Police Scotland understands that not every person may feel ready or able to speak about the abuse they have encountered in their childhood but we are here to listen to you and direct you to relevant support services when you feel that you are.

How can I report my abuse?

There are a number of ways in which you can report your abuse to Police Scotland.Should an urgent response from the Police or other Emergency Services be required, please dial 999.

  • 101: If you have suffered abuse or you know someone who may have been a victim of child abuse regardless of where or when it occurred then please call Police Scotland on 101.
  • Attendance at a police station: If you prefer you can attend at a Police Station whereby you can make a report of the abuse you experienced. Similarly you can merely discuss your options with a Police Officer prior to making a decision as to whether you would wish to make a report.
  • Crimestoppers: If you do not feel ready or able to speak to police but want to pass on information or you feel that someone is at risk of harm you can phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 and pass on your concerns


What will the Police do?

Whether the abuse you experienced has been of a physical, emotional and/or of a sexual nature, Police Scotland will take every possible step to explain the process for the enquiry, make sure you understand your options and keep you updated as to the outcome.

An appropriate police officer will be identified to speak with you and obtain an initial statement. If you are the victim of sexual abuse, you will be given the option of whether you want a male or female Sexual Offences Liaison Officer and every effort will be taken to accommodate your request. You may be given the name of another officer who is responsible for making enquiries into the information you have provided. Officers involved in obtaining statements from you or with making enquiries will be specially trained in dealing with the type of offences you are reporting and will keep you updated and reassured at every stage of the enquiry.

Other persons identified during the course of the investigation may also have to be spoken to by the Police.

Once all information is gathered, the Police will determine if there is enough evidence to report any person to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

If the decision is made not to report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service then you will be provided with an explanation as to why this is the case.

What will the COPFS do?

If following a Police investigation an offender is reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) then you will be able to receive information from COPFS staff about your case and possible outcomes.

COPFS has a Victim Information and Advice (VIA) service, which has offices around the country and which offers information and advice to child victims and victims of crime in cases of domestic abuse, hate crime, sexual crime, stalking, and cases with witnesses who are vulnerable or where it is likely that a trial will involve a jury. VIA staff will be in contact with you to let you know about the case. If you do not hear from VIA and believe that your case falls within one of those categories, you should contact COPFS.

If a decision is made to proceed with a prosecution you may have to give evidence in court. VIA staff will speak to you about the support you may need. Pre-trial support can include a visit to court before trial. VIA will also speak to you about special measures that you may be entitled to have to help you give your evidence. If you think that special measures would help you in court, and VIA are not dealing with your case, you can contact COPFS.”.

If your case has been referred to VIA and COPFS decides to pursue criminal proceedings, VIA will keep in contact with you throughout the process to ensure that you are fully informed and have any relevant support in place. For further information, please visit the COPFS website.

Throughout all the above processes you can have a friend, family member or other representative with you if you wish, as long as they are not a witness.

If you have difficulty understanding or speaking English, you can request an interpreter to help you understand questions you are being asked, information you are being given and to enable you to provide answers and information effectively.

For further information on your rights as a victim of crime in Scotland, please refer to the Victim’s Code for Scotland.