Scotland

'150 victims' in Scottish football abuse inquiry

child playing football Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Allegations of abuse have been made by former players across the UK

More than 150 people have so far reported being the victims of historical child sexual abuse within Scottish football.

A major Police Scotland investigation was launched in November after the force received reports of "non-recent child abuse within football".

Since then, the force said it had made a total of 11 arrests.

Similar allegations of sexual abuse have been made by former players across the UK.

In its latest update on the investigation, Police Scotland said a total of 162 people had come forward to either report or provide information about child abuse in Scottish football, with the force also having "proactively made contact with a number of victims and witnesses".

Det Ch Supt Lesley Boal said: "As of 30 June 2017, 11 people have been arrested, more than 150 people have reported being sexually abused as a child within a football club setting and 295 crimes have been recorded."

She said the force's specialist investigation team was "progressing well" with the inquiry.

'Not alone'

Urging any remaining victims to contact either the police or the dedicated NSPCC helpline, she said: "Our assurance to anyone who has not felt able to report so far is you are absolutely not alone.

"We will listen, we will investigate regardless of where or when the abuse occurred, and we will take prompt action to ensure that no-one else is at risk of harm."

She also urged anyone with any information or concerns about anyone who may pose a risk to children, or who may have abused a child, to the police or their local social work department.

‎A BBC Scotland investigation revealed in December that former youth coach and referee Hugh Stevenson was allowed to carry on working in football for several years after being reported to police and the SFA over child sex offences.

Another BBC documentary earlier this year revealed fresh allegations of child sex abuse against the founder of Celtic Boys' Club, Jim Torbett.

Torbett was jailed for two years in 1998 after being convicted of abusing three former Celtic Boys' Club players, including former Scotland international Alan Brazil, between 1967-74. He "vehemently denies" the new allegations against him.

Jim McCafferty, a former youth coach who was the kit man for Celtic, Hibernian and Falkirk, was arrested in Belfast after allegations were made against him.

Separately, allegations have also been made against coaches who were formerly involved with clubs including Motherwell, Partick Thistle and Rangers.

The allegations involve incidents said to have happened between the 1970s and early 1990s.

The Scottish Football Association has set up an independent review tasked with examining child protection "processes and procedures" in place both currently and historically in Scottish football.

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