7th May 2017
22 hrs ago / Stephen Naysmith,
SCOTLAND’S social care watchdog has refused to take action against a worker who failed to protect a child from abuse in the 1980s because it says it does not know what the rules were at the time.
The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), which registers and regulates social care workers, has told Richard Tracey it will not take his case further, because there is no record of how social workers employed by Strathclyde Regional Council were expected to respond to child abuse, while he was in care.
Officially, the SSSC says there is insufficient evidence to pursue 49-year-old Mr Tracey’s claims about the abuse he suffered from the age of five when he was placed in a large Ayrshire foster family by Kilmarnock social services.
This is despite evidence in notes by Hugh Quinn, the social worker responsible throughout his time in care. These show Mr Quinn regularly dismissed Mr Tracey’s complaints about abuse, described him as attention seeking, and apparently failed to investigate claims of sexual abuse.
The SSSC said it was required to prove not just the facts of an allegation against a worker but “that what the worker did or did not do fell short of the standard expected of a reasonable worker in the same circumstances”.
In a letter to Mr Tracey last week, SSSC solicitor Iain Martin told him the regulator would have to prove what the standard expected of social workers at the time was, and then that Mr Quinn’s actions fell below this. He added: “We have been unable to obtain policies or procedures in place during the period in question. There was no statutory or governmental child protection guidance available at the time either.”
In a separate letter to Mr Quinn, who still works as a social worker in Ayrshire, Mr Martin said “we have decided that your fitness to practise is not impaired”.
Mr Tracey said the decision had left him furious, adding:
“It is all about protecting the establishment. It appears what happened to me is OK because there were no guidelines to say that it wasn’t.”
Experts also ridiculed the SSSC analysis. Simon Collins, the solicitor acting for In Care abuse Survivors Scotland at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, said: “If it is the position of the SSSC reinvestigating the role of social work in the 1980s that they can’t do so because they don’t know what a social worker was meant to be doing in 1980, then the SSSC is not fit for purpose because can’t fulfil its remit. That is their only job in life. “ A spokeswoman for the SSSC said its findings had “not come across clearly”.
She added: “We are aware of what Mr Quinn’s duties were under the Social Work Scotland Act 1968 and this was considered as part of the investigation. We would expect a social worker at that time to have taken action if they had information suggesting abuse. We acknowledge this hasn’t come across clearly in the letter.
“Our investigation uncovered Mr Quinn was not aware at the time of all of the allegations being made by Mr Tracey. He was aware of some of the allegations and actions were taken. We could not prove those actions amounted to misconduct.”