BY MICHAEL REYNOLDS
Officers at the specialist National Child Abuse Investigation Unit (NCAIU) are leading operations which are so serious, they are given their own name and identified team.
The unit was launched in April 2015 to support the investigation of complex child abuse and neglect cases across Scotland.
Reports into child abuse scandals on Orkney in 1991 and the Western Isles in 2003 both recommended the development of a national body to deal with abuse investigations.
Dr Sarah Nelson from Edinburgh University, one of Scotland’s leading child sex abuse researchers, believes the unit should have been set up years earlier.
She said: “These figures wouldn’t surprise any of us working in the field but it does seem like the unit has been extremely successful in doing their job. Sexual abuse, like domestic violence, is a highly secretive crime, and in a crime like this you don’t know what the true prevalence is.”
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show the scale of the NCAIU’s work one year after their launch.
Alan Draper of support group In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) said: “These figures don’t surprise me.
“It is encouraging that police have so many active investigations but our concern would be that they have sufficient resources to continue.
“The work they are doing is very much welcomed by survivors but do they have the resources for it?”
Officers from the NCAIU work alongside local police from their headquarters in Livingston, with investigators also based in Inverness, Aberdeen and Dalmarnock in Glasgow’s east end.
One of the unit’s most high-profile investigations is into child abuse in the Catholic Church in Scotland dating back decades.
And in September, the NCAIU revealed that they are investigating as many as 80 suspected cases of online child abuse at any one time.