A VICTIM of childhood sexual abuse has accused Scotland’s social services watchdog of shielding a social worker who left him in the care of violent and abusive carers.
Richard Tracey said he had little confidence in the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), despite it having reopened its investigation into the role of worker Hugh Quinn, as the result of an investigation by The Herald.
Richard Tracey claims he was physically abused when in foster care, and later in an Ayrshire children’s home, and also regularly sexually abused by a friend of his foster parents. The fact he was being beaten and was assaulted in residential care are both confirmed by his social work notes from the early 1980s, while the claims of sexual abuse are also recorded.
As a result, Mr Tracey complained about Mr Quinn and the failure of what was then Kilmarnock Social Services to protect him.
Last month the SSSC turned down his complaint, explaining it was unable to pursue Mr Tracey’s complaint against Mr Quinn. The watchdog argued that even if it were proved the worker knowingly failed to act to protect him, it could not establish this was unacceptable by the standards of social work practice at that time in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
At the time, the agency claimed: “We have been unable to obtain any polices or procedures that were in place at Strathclyde Regional Council during the period in question.”
However The Herald subsequently readily located several documents outlining child protection standards at the time in Strathclyde, in the city archive at the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, Now, in a letter to Mr Tracey, Maree Allison, director of Fitness To Practise at the SSSC has confirmed it has contacted Mr Quinn to reopen the investigation. The official added: “I bear responsibility for the fact there was information publicly available that we did not obtain.”
She said Glasgow City Council, as the “legacy authority” for Strathclyde Regional Council, told the SSSC it did not hold documents setting out the expectations for social workers in child abuse cases. Ms Allison said a colleague “has been to the Mitchell Library and recovered some documents and is carrying out a check with another archive in Ayr that may have relevant information”.
However, she also warned Mr Tracey there were limits to what the SSSC could do. “It is important you understand the limits of our role. Our responsibility is to decide whether he is fit to practise as a social worker today. That is the legal remit we work within and our investigations and decisions focus solely on that,” she said.
Mr Tracey said he was not confident. “It is reassuring the SSSC now appears to be dedicating a lot of time and effort in respect of this case, although I am unsure whether that will be to try to provide further assistance to Mr Quinn … or if in fact the SSSC is now seriously considering the abuse I suffered whilst he was my social worker,” he said.
He also claimed an investigation into what happened to him in the 1980s might open a Pandora’s box involving other workers. “I believe all the stops will be pulled out to find any excuse whatsoever to stop this box from being opened,” he added.