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Historical Abuse Systemic Review: Residential Schools and Children's Homes in Scotland 1950 to 1995

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Nancy Bell, Researcher
Historical Abuse Systemic Review

Appendix 3 Children's residential services: Learning through records

Contents

Acknowledgements
Executive Summary
Chapter 1: Records and children's residential establishments
Chapter 2: Former residents' experiences
Chapter 3: Generating records for children's residential establishments: The legal framework 1933-1995
Chapter 4: An overview of records law and key initiatives after 1995
Chapter 5: Searching for information: Major changes and Scottish Government records
Chapter 6: Searching for information: Voluntary organisations and religious organisations
Chapter 7: Searching for information: Local authorities
Chapter 8: Concluding remarks
References
Appendices

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the many individuals who contributed to this report. In particular, I am grateful to former residents for offering their expert contributions under difficult emotional circumstances, allowing me insights into the many challenges they faced in trying to learn more about who they are and "what happened" many years ago in places where they spent their childhood.

I would also like to thank those individuals working for voluntary and religious organisations; local authorities; universities and archives who displayed a genuine and heartfelt understanding about why records are important and why significant records associated with children's residential establishments, such as children's files, must be preserved and made accessible.

Last, but not least, thank you to the Historical Abuse Systemic Review's legal researcher, administrative assistant, other researchers and various individuals who contributed their expertise to this report.

Nancy Bell
Researcher
November 2007

Executive Summary

The Historical Abuse Systemic Review remit began with the words "…against the background of the abuse suffered by children up to the age of 16 in residential schools and children's homes in Scotland…". The review intended to learn from a systemic perspective - that is, from an overall service provision viewpoint - how abuse was allowed to happen in children's residential establishments throughout Scotland between 1950 and 1995.

This report on records highlights the important insights we gained into the challenges of locating and accessing records associated with children's residential services. Secondly, the report also illustrates records' importance and the complexities associated with children's residential services records, which are an essential component to monitoring children's safety and ensuring accountability.

The content of the report focuses primarily upon:

  • Issues associated with records and the review's remit
  • Why children's residential services records are important and to whom
  • Former residents' experiences of locating and accessing records
  • The legal context for children's residential establishment records
  • The review's search for information and what we found

By focusing on these we hope to contribute to a better understanding of the importance of children's residential establishment records and the need to ensure their preservation and accessibility.

The conclusions in the report are as follows:

Chapter 1: The review's remit specifically refers to records, a topic addressed during the 2004 parliamentary debate on child abuse in institutions. However, the remit is based on numerous assumptions about records that do not take account of the realities of locating and accessing records associated with children's residential services. Various issues arose, making information-gathering and locating and accessing records extremely challenging:

Central databases: None exist for children's residential services that cover the 45 year period under review.

Definitions for "residential schools" and "children's homes": Many terms have been used throughout the years to describe residential settings for children.

Service provision: Residential services have been varied, extensive and changing from 1950 to 1995.

Existence of records: There have been no records retention and disposal schedules for records associated with children's residential establishments; therefore, it is impossible to know what records should or do exist without laborious searching.

'Public records' definition: This definition is unclear and access to records held by private bodies, providing public services, depends upon their goodwill.

Records location, volume and types: There are large numbers of different record types in many locations and not all records have been put into records management systems, archived or both of these.

Access to records: It is complicated to access records, due to legal restrictions and the lack of standardised access to records policies.

Records as 'relevant': Determining record relevancy is subjective and difficult to assess without examining records, a time-consuming task requiring adequate resources.

Attitudes: Some helpful and some poor attitudes may determine access to relevant information.

While records were essential to the work of the review, we learned that records are also very important to many individuals for many reasons. Organisations and government depend on records, while records are also necessary for future research. Records have particular significance to former residents for several reasons such as their search for identity, establishing a historical account, practical administrative challenges in daily life, their sense of belonging and general interest. Records also ensure that former residents' rights are realised, specifically their rights under human rights, freedom of information and data protection legislation.

Many children's residential establishment records appear to be missing, but there is evidence that these records may exist in far greater numbers than is known. It is critical that the importance of records - which is apparent to former residents, archivists and others - is known by people responsible for generating and managing records to ensure that significant records for children's residential establishments are preserved and made accessible.

Chapter 2: Former residents who lived in children's residential establishments have rights associated with records. These include the legal entitlement to view records associated with their childhood experiences in residential placements. Some former residents contacting the review, however, found that locating and accessing records associated with children's residential establishments is fraught with challenges. There is no central tracing database, for example, to assist former residents seeking information about their experiences, their family history and children's residential establishments in general.

The described experiences of former residents contacting the review illustrate the many difficulties former residents encountered when trying to locate information they expected to be available to them. Located records often don't contain the information former residents expected, or hoped, to see. Some residents are upset when they read certain information in their records for the first time as elderly adults. Some records are missing. Poor records management in the past has meant that some former residents are unable to realise their legal entitlements to access records.

The challenges faced by former residents contacting the review are consistent with experiences highlighted in other inquiries, such as those into child migration and institutional child abuse. 1 Some key aspects include:

Locating records: Records may be located in several locations and information may be in many types of records, unknown and unidentified to former residents. These records may also exist in places at considerable geographical distance from where former residents live, requiring them to incur significant costs to access records.

Missing records: Records may be missing for various reasons, such as inadequate searching, the misplacement of records or because records have been destroyed.

Support to view records: Former residents may be prevented from gaining access to their records without agreeing to support services from organisations and local authorities concerned about the possible effects that reading file contents may have on former residents.

Information within records: Once former residents have gained access to their records, they're often disappointed or distressed by what isn't in their records or by what they learn for the first time in their lives.

Record quality: Former residents described their difficulty in reading photocopied records and in reading incomplete information that had pages missing or information blocked from view.

One critical lesson we learned is how the search for records and records content affect the lives of children as adults in later years. Through the experiences of former residents with records, it is possible to see what must be done to make the future experiences of children in state care, who seek information about their childhood experiences, less traumatic. It is also possible to see what issues need to be addressed to meet the current needs of former residents trying to locate and access records. From a broader perspective, society benefits when we are able to gain insights into past practices through personal records associated with children's residential services.

Chapter 3: The regulatory framework for children's residential services shows how children's residential establishments needed to generate more records in later years. At the same time, this regulatory framework does not take account of all the records generated in association with children's residential services. From 1950 to 1995, the law specified what records needed to be generated within approved schools, children's homes, residential placements for children with 'mental disorders' and remand homes, for example. The law outlined managers' and the Secretary of State's duties and powers relating to records, imposing an oversight responsibility for individual children's welfare and children's residential establishments facilitated through records.

As an illustration, the 1933 law required managers for approved schools to ensure proper record keeping, which included 'punishment books', and to review the records, possibly to monitor children's safety and quality of service provision. The 1961 rules included additional requirements such as keeping records of children's progress and absconding. Approved school managers, who had an obligation to manage '...the school in the interests of the welfare, development and rehabilitation of the pupils', were also required to read the log book, keep meeting minutes, report to the Secretary of State and make records available to inspectors. The 1952 and 1959 regulations for children's homes show the association between records and the duties of managers, inspectors and the Secretary of State, who was to receive 'punishment returns'.

The 1987 regulations 2 continued to place duties on managers for proper record generation and required managers to prepare a statement of functions and objectives for their establishment 3. In particular, managers had responsibility for ensuring children's records, including 'health particulars', were kept along with a log book registering important events, such as 'discipline' administered. The language in the 1987 regulations changed to 'discipline' from 'punishment' used in earlier legislation, which coincided with the banning of corporal punishment in schools. In the 1980s, new regulations for secure accommodation also demanded records for children placed there and access to those records by inspectors. The Secretary of State could request individual records for children placed in secure accommodation.

Then, the Children's (Scotland) Act 1995 and other regulations, including those for secure accommodation, followed. The legal provisions for records associated with children's residential establishments changed once again and became more expansive, suggesting a growing reliance on records as a method for monitoring and improving services to children. Managers of children's residential establishments continued to have responsibility for records, including detailed statements of function and objectives. The law introduced statements on 'children's rights and responsibilities' to be given to children along with information about complaints procedures. The requirement to generate personal records for children in children's residential establishments continued although the requirements for what those records must contain developed further under the 1995 Act.

Chapter 4: In our review of public records legislation, it became apparent that the Public Records Act 1937 is the main legislation responsible for ensuring the preservation of public records, which include records for children's residential services. According to public records experts, however, this law is significantly outdated and needs reform. Notably, there is no adequate definition of 'public record' and no duty imposed on local authorities to transfer their public records to archives for preservation. There is also no legal specification about how records generated by private bodies receiving public funding must be preserved and made accessible.

The public records legislation sits alongside other law. The Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994, for example, provided for the transfer of records between the old and new authorities. While the law said local authorities should make "proper arrangements" for the "preservation and management" of their records, it did not require them to do so. Furthermore, the 1994 Act allowed local authorities to dispose of any records it did not consider "worthy of preservation", which meant that individuals within local authority departments - who may have been unskilled as records managers and archivists - were making decisions about what records were destroyed.

Current freedom of information and data protection law depends upon records existence to ensure that individuals' realise their legal entitlements to access records. There is an urgent need, therefore, to review all public records legislation to make certain that it is coordinated and facilitates access to records. Legal authority, reflected in standards and guidance, is also needed to guide the proper management of records. Inadequate legislation leads to poor records management practices which, in turn, have significant implications for records associated children's residential establishments, affecting what is preserved, destroyed and made accessible.

In recent years significant initiatives have attempted to address gaps in records legislation. These include the Archival Mapping Project (1999), the Public Records Strategy (2003-2004) and the Code of Practice on Records Management (2003) - all of which relate to record preservation and access. We found, however, that despite these important initiatives, several outstanding issues remain including the need to:

  • Reform public records legislation;
  • Clarify what happens to records held by private bodies that receive public funds;
  • Address variations in records access policies and the lack of records access policies, in some places; and
  • Coordinate public records legislation to ensure individuals' are not being denied their legal entitlement to access records.

And, within this context, special consideration needs to be given to the records of children's residential establishments - the 'homes' where adults lived as children, away from their families.

Chapter 5: Major local government reorganisations and changes to children's services legislation in 1968 occurred during the period 1950 to 1995. These factors would have impacted on the generation and preservation of records associated, directly or indirectly, with central government as well as local authorities and organisations. The reporting and policy relationship between organisations and central government would have changed throughout the years, with significant implications for records. The absence of appropriate records legislation would also have impacted on record preservation at all levels.

The former Scottish Executive Education Department (' SEED') made records available for us to consider during the review. Prior to these records being made available, the Scottish Information Commissioner had examined SEED's process of gathering records relating to historical abuse in residential schools and children's homes. The ensuing report (Scottish Information Commissioner, 2005) identified many issues that arose for us and we concur with several findings in that report. The report identifies the challenges associated with SEED's search for records, such as the large numbers of existing records and the nature of unstructured information. Some findings from the Scottish Information Commissioner's report are as follows:

  • Past records management practices were not as robust as current practices.
  • What records exist today depends upon the quality of record-keeping in the past.
  • Most SEED records contain policy information and, for example, inspection reports.
  • Titles can be misleading and there are inconsistencies and gaps in the records (Scottish Information Commissioner, 2005).

In our search for central government records, like the Scottish Information Commissioner, we learned about the existence of records not identified on SEED's list - records potentially relevant to the review. This factor made the task of reviewing all possibly relevant SEED records very time-consuming and beyond the review's resources. It was difficult to determine from the record names, for example, what information the records held and - without reviewing the records - whether the information in the records was relevant. In many of the records we reviewed, however, we identified important information germane to our understanding about children's residential services.

Chapters 6 and 7: We relied on information located within records held by voluntary organisations, religious organisations and local authorities to fulfil our remit. Our information-gathering process shows how difficult, if not impossible, it is to gain insights into systemic factors contributing to children's abuse within residential establishments without the existence of records. In general, our search for information revealed that local authorities, voluntary organisations and religious organisations all faced similar challenges when trying to locate records, making accessibility difficult. We found that it was impossible to determine where all 'relevant' records for children's residential establishments are held, and this situation will remain until all significant records for children's residential services are identified, located and catalogued.

Locating records associated with children's residential services is an enormous and daunting task. We learned, for example, that management records relating to the same topic may be located in many locations. We also found that the lack of records in one location, for example, didn't mean that those records, or records relating to the same topic, don't exist. We discovered that many children's residential establishments changed function, ownership and closed, making the ownership of records, such as children's files and management records, and what happened to those records somewhat unclear. The local authorities, voluntary and religious organisations were reorganised or relocated, which led to massive uncertainty about what happened to records through transitions. Employees with corporate memory left their employment, taking their memory of where records are located with them.

When children left their residential placements, various unregulated approaches guided what happened to children's records. These approaches were complicated by the possible existence of several children's records for one child depending on what services were involved. Children's records may have existed within the children's residential establishments, local authority social work or children's departments, local authority education departments or education authorities, health boards and voluntary or religious organisations. For children placed outwith their own local authorities, it was reported that children's records returned to the child's originating authority and were dispersed to central offices. It's not clear what happened to the records of Scottish children placed in children's residential establishments in England.

Our information gathering, however, depended upon organisations and local authorities having located and identified all "relevant" records together with their ability to make those records immediately accessible. As our search for information shows, two large government reorganisations, major legislative changes and changes within organisations throughout a 45 year period led to challenges in the search for information:

  • Poor records management practices in the past mean that records are missing, have been destroyed or were not generated in the first instance.
  • Corporate memory was held by individuals who have retired or died.
  • There was no legislation requiring sound records management, such as schedules of records that had been retained and destroyed.
  • Organisations have changed locations or experienced fires or floods, causing damage to records.
  • Children's residential establishments closed or changed management and their records locations are unknown.
  • Few general records are easily accessible and specific to children's residential services.
  • The labelling of records is poor and the records' catalogues inadequate.
  • It was very time-consuming and costly to search for information.

A number of voluntary and religious organisations, while committed to better records management, lacked, and continue to lack, a proper records management system and full-time archivists. Not all local authorities currently employ archivists and records managers and some did not adequately support their existing archival services.

Voluntary organisations, religious organisations and local authorities found it difficult, and at times impossible, to respond to our queries about past management policies and practices, including policies that relate to monitoring children's well-being and keeping children safe. For those organisations and local authorities that did respond, the information they provided suggests that records have become increasingly relied upon for monitoring children's safety, promoting their well-being and evaluating the quality of services provided to children.

The poor overall state of records, however, raises important issues about how voluntary organisations, religious organisations and local authorities that provided children's residential services are held accountable to children, former residents and others, for the services they provided.

Concluding remarks: We depended upon records to gain insights into past experiences within children's residential services and, in doing so, we learned invaluable lessons about records associated with children's residential establishments and children's services in general. We've identified reasons why records are important, to whom and for what reasons. We've developed awareness about the many challenges facing individuals who seek and work with records. And, we now recognise the significant costs - personal, historical, and social - for survivors of institutional child abuse, others who lived in children's residential establishments and society when records cannot be located and accessed. There are economic benefits to proper records management - now and in the future. For children living away from home and in state care today, records are essential for monitoring their safety, promoting their well-being and holding children's services accountable for what they offer children.

Poor recording keeping practices have, and continue to have, many implications:

  • This review experienced difficulty in addressing its remit due to the poor state of records associated with children's residential services. Future inquiries 4 will also be affected unless proper records management practices are universally adopted;
  • Challenges exist for local and central governments, religious organisations and voluntary organisations needing to respond to inquiries about past management policy and practices.
  • Former residents of children's residential establishments may be unable to realise their legal entitlements to access personal information and information about children's residential services.
  • Individuals may be denied access to justice that depends upon the collaboration of records;
  • It is difficult to develop a full historical account of children's residential services in Scotland without records.
  • There are risks to children in care today as records play an essential role in monitoring children's safety and well-being.
  • There is the potential lack of accountability by organisations and government who are responsible for their services to children.
  • Future research that could contribute to a better understanding of Scotland's social history may be hindered.

The establishment of 'historical accounts', in particular, is important to former residents. Records play a critical role in establishing accounts about what happened in children's residential establishments throughout Scotland and what contributed to children's abuse. Records may complement the oral histories of people who lived in children's residential establishments and those who worked in children's services. Records add to our understanding about how those establishments, and children's services in general, are situated within Scotland's wider social fabric.

Records are vital to ensuring '…that past experiences and lessons are not lost'. It was within the spirit of learning lessons that this report was written. From the knowledge we have gained, we would like to encourage all those individuals who found it difficult to place importance on records to learn more about records - to see beyond records as administrative inconveniences to how records connect to the humanity of children living away from home and in state care. Records have significance beyond the immediate, they have importance in perpetuity.

We are extremely grateful to former residents for their sharing their expertise and their experiences about records, as it was apparent that their contributions were accompanied by an emotional cost to them. We appreciate, as well, the support, enthusiasm and passion shared by many people who believe in the importance of preserving records that allow us to better understand people's experiences, the provision of children's residential services and their interrelationship with Scotland's social history. Lessons that we learn from records allow us to better meet the needs of children living away from home and in state care today.

It is not too late to make important changes to address critical and outstanding issues identified within the report.

Chapter 1: Records and children's residential services

Introduction

"Children are at once the most vulnerable citizens in any society and the greatest of our treasures 5."

Children in residential establishments, living away from home, are among the most vulnerable, yet abuse has occurred in the very places where children should have been safe and nurtured. The remit for the Historical Abuse Systemic Review begins with the words "…against the background of the abuse suffered by children up to the age of 16 in residential schools and children's homes in Scotland…". The review intended to learn from a systemic perspective - that is, from an overall service provision viewpoint - how abuse was allowed to happen in children's residential establishments throughout Scotland between 1950 and 1995.

Our review, like all inquiries, depended on records 6 to meet its remit objectives. In our search for records, and information within, we learned about important issues associated with our search. This special report on records, therefore, emerged for two primary reasons. First, we believe it is necessary to highlight the significant insights we gained from our experiences, and the experiences of others, in the search for information about children's residential services. Records, and access to information within them, are fundamental to helping us understand what has happened in the past. Secondly, 'monitoring' is a key aspect of the review's remit with children's services records playing a crucial role in monitoring children's safety and ensuring accountability - it is a role that is not always valued. For these reasons, we concluded that records merit special consideration.

Society depends on records, which are important for countless reasons and in all spheres of life. Records associated with children's residential services have been, and continue to be, an essential part of ensuring children's safety and well-being. Records have a significant meaning to people who lived in children's residential establishments - they're essential to their sense of identity. These, and other factors, are important for understanding adult survivor experiences of childhood abuse, for responding to their needs and for developing better ways of taking care of children who live in residential establishments today.

This first chapter considers the assumptions that our remit was based on. It reports on the parliamentary discussion in which records featured and the challenges we faced when we began gathering information. It examines why records are important, to whom and why. Finally, it reports on myths and realities linked to records that were, supposedly, missing.

The assumptions behind the remit of the review

The review's remit states:

"4. For the purposes of his investigation the Independent Expert will, in addition to information that is publicly available:

(1) have access to all documentary records of the former Scottish Office in so far as in the possession of Scottish Ministers from the period under consideration and in so far as relating to residential schools and children's homes which will be subject to redaction 7 to ensure that no individual can be identified;

(2) be expected to seek the cooperation of local authorities and other organisations with responsibility for the management and administration of residential schools and children's homes in making available to him such documentary records and explanation of such records as he considers to be necessary for his purposes.

"5. Except in so far as provided above the Independent Expert is not expected to consider material or submissions from individuals or from local authorities or such organisations except to the extent that he may consider it necessary for the purposes of his investigation to obtain information from organisations representing the interests of the survivors of abuse."

The remit is based on the assumption that all relevant information would be found within the "documentary records of the former Scottish Office...subject to redaction" in addition to information "publicly available". It suggests that we should seek the co-operation of local authorities, voluntary and religious organisation that may hold information of potential use, which is not "publicly available". There was no legal requirement for local authorities and organisations to assist us by granting access to information. While the former Minister of Education and Young People had encouraged organisations to "open their files" during the 2004 parliamentary debate, we relied on local authorities and organisations to help us within the spirit of co-operation.

The remit didn't anticipate that we'd "…consider material or submissions from individuals…local authorities or…organisations…" We depended on former residents and others, on the other hand, to tell us where potentially relevant information might be located. Many people made invaluable contributions to our search for records. They added immensely to our understanding of the general state of children's residential services' records, during the period when we, and others, encountered many complications associated with identifying, locating and accessing such records. We also learned, through discussions with former residents of children's residential establishments, about the challenges they faced finding and accessing records.

We're extremely grateful to everyone who made extraordinary efforts to locate information and to tell us about existing records that might help us to understand how abuse was allowed in children's residential establishments. It was evident that many recognised the valuable contribution children's residential services records make to our understanding of historical childcare services in Scotland - a vital component of Scotland's social history. We also learned about records' importance to former residents of children's residential establishments, as those records are often the only tangible connection former residents have to their childhood experiences.

Despite the contributions many individuals made to our search for information, however, it became apparent that poor records management practices have led to poor outcomes from personal, historical and social perspectives, as this report illustrates. From the viewpoint of this review, our work was seriously hampered by the dire state of records associated with children's residential services. Preserving records and making them accessible, we learned, is critical to ensuring that we respect the needs of individuals who lived, and live, in residential placements. Records are vital to making certain that we learn important lessons about what happened in children's residential establishments.

Background: the parliamentary discussion

The Scottish Parliament recognised the significance of records, and making them available, during its debate about institutional child abuse held on 1 December 2004 8. The then Minister for Education and Young People, Peter Peacock, (the Scottish Executive, now Scottish Government) 9, spoke about "opening a new chapter" on historical abuse in institutional care. He announced that the Scottish Executive was "…working to open all files that are relevant to people seeking insights into what has happened in residential establishments in which they lived", confirming that the Scottish Executive was involved in a process to ensure that sensitive personal information was not released.

The Minister also indicated that the Public Petitions Committee had raised the issue of contact with organisations that held "relevant" information. He stated that he wrote to various organisations to request that they open their files, commenting that he had received positive responses. In noting that he wanted "relevant files" to be identified and made public, the Minister stated that these were "exceptional circumstances" requiring the involvement of the Keeper of the Records 10. The Minister further announced that he had asked the Freedom of Information Commissioner to examine the Scottish Executive's own process of tracing and opening their records. It was reported that the Public Petitions Committee welcomed the involvement of the Freedom of Information Commissioner "…in the investigations into abuse"'.

"I want him to verify that we have been taking all reasonable steps to be open and, if he finds deficiencies in any actions, I want him to highlight those so that I may rectify the situation. I hope that those actions will reassure Parliament and the survivors of abuse that we are being as open as possible.''

Some MSPs commented about the need for transparent records, such as those held by the Scottish Executive and other organisations stating, for example, that "it is vital that all relevant and available paperwork is out in the open". During the debate, one MSP raised the topic of "missing records", indicating it was important to know why records are missing. This MSP described the importance of locating and preserving records associated with children who were in care, and the need for former residents' support to enable access. In stating that no destruction of records should be allowed, this member also recommended a "register of those records" to assist former residents to access their records:

"The individual record of a young person will indicate where they were, but there will not necessarily be a collective record for an institution of who was there at a particular time. Ironically, one of the ways in which many of the adults were traced during the [local authority] experience was through a pocket-money book that turned up, which contained the children's names; it was only through that document that people were able to go back and look for individual child care records. One lesson for the future is that we must ensure that there is better record keeping. Separate records must be kept for child and family social work files and there must be better collation of records on institutions."

In his closing statement, the Minister stated: "I want to make it clear that the Executive is absolutely determined to bring to the surface all the information and knowledge about what has happened that are in our possession and we encourage others to do exactly the same."

The challenges arising for the review

The review's remit is set against a "…background of abuse" and the 2004 parliamentary discussion revealed the importance MSPs placed on records to provide insights into how that abuse was allowed to happen. The parliamentary discussions, however, were based on assumptions about records, including the assumption that records can be located and that they're accessible. We met several challenges, however, at the beginning of our search for information, as described below.

Centralised databases

No existing information provided a detailed overview of the regulatory framework for children's residential services between 1950 and 1995, which made the search for related policy, guidance and standards difficult. No central database records the names of children's residential establishments, their location, dates of operation, their purpose or their management structures for the entire period under review. No central database identifies what records are associated with children's residential services and where they are located.

Defining "residential schools" and "children's homes"

Many formal and informal terms were used to describe residential settings where children lived without parental care, making it challenging to define "residential schools" and "children's homes". The imprecise definitions, which altered in meaning throughout the review period, had implications for our search for records (see Appendix A).

Range of service provision

We found the range of residential services provided to children between 1950 and 1995 was extensive and extremely complex. Hundreds of children's residential establishments existed, with many places changing function, location and management or closing down. Wide-ranging, complicated and changing policy structures guided decisions about which services were provided. Central government, local government, voluntary and religious organisations all provided guidance and direction to individual children's residential establishments. Psychological, health, judicial, religious and education services intersected, at times, with direct services to children in residential places. Various professional associations provided guidance and direction within specialised areas. Because of this complex picture, it was impossible to identify all records that might have existed and relate to children's residential services during a 45-year period within the constraints of our review.

Determining whether records existed

It was necessary to determine what records might have existed, in various locations, and to distinguish them from those records that actually do exist. We learned it was also possible that many records relating to the same topic were generated in different locations, such as children's residential establishments, social work and education departments. Record-keeping practices varied immensely from establishment to establishment, within organisations and local authorities and at central government level. Many records would have been generated in association with professional services to children. Throughout the years large volumes of policy papers, special reports, investigation reports and other such documents were generated throughout Scotland. Poor records retention policies have meant that not all essential records were managed properly and archived.

"Public" records and accessibility

During the 2004 parliamentary debate, the Minister indicated that he wanted to make certain that everything was being done "...to identify and make public relevant files" as "...these are exceptional circumstances..." Under the terms of the remit of the review, we sought the co-operation of local authorities and organisations in making records available. The term "public records", however, has particular meaning under the Public (Scotland) Records 1937 Act (see Chapter 3). Any public disclosure of records, as well, is subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Data Protection 1998 Act. From beginning of our review, therefore, these laws made it difficult for organisations and local authorities to comply with the proposed spirit of opening up their records and to grant us unfettered access to all records relating to children's residential services.

We faced many challenges in accessing records. Some potentially significant records in archives are designated as 'closed', which means they can't be viewed by the public. Records are owned by voluntary, private and religious organisations, which had no legal obligation to grant us access. There were also geographical problems in accessing records, as they are stored throughout Scotland and England.

While MSPs called for records relating to children's residential establishments to be opened and made transparent, it was a request with complex implications. Records needed to be located before they could be accessed and records disclosure needed to be made within the context of legislative requirements. Records couldn't be made accessible to us, and to the public, until it was clear what was "relevant", to whom and for what purpose. The task of determining relevancy was fraught with difficulties (see below). Furthermore, as there are no clear, standardised access policies in all records locations, we had to learn about a multitude of access requirements in a multitude of locations (see Appendix B).

Location and volume of records

The 2004 parliamentary debate made clear that the Scottish Executive possessed records which it intended to make publicly available to those with an interest in determining how abuse was allowed to happen. The Minister reported to Parliament that he had written to certain organisations about their records. In his report, the Scottish Information Commissioner (2005) identified the difficult process facing the Scottish Executive. As the Commissioner's report stated, it took approximately two years with dedicated resources for the Scottish Executive to locate and catalogue information, a process made challenging for many reasons identified in this report.

We learned that there are many locations where records may be found throughout Scotland and England (see Appendix B). Records relating to one children's residential establishment, for example, may be in several locations such as central offices; local authority departments; regional, local, national or university archives; private storage facilities; museums and libraries. Records have shifted from place to place due to relocations; reorganisations; closing of children's residential establishments; changes in management; lack of storage and for many other reasons. Often the transfer of records wasn't tracked, making it difficult, if not impossible, to find out where records were sent.

Vast numbers of records relate to children's residential services due to the extent of the services provided and the years involved. As organisations, local authorities and central government found records as a result of our inquiries, it became clear that not all records have been identified, located or archived. We also learned that some records are at varying stages of discovery. Some were found in boxes in basements or other unidentified locations. Some remain in a records management process while others have been archived. It is apparent, however, that far more records exist than is currently known, as many records have not been properly identified and put into records managements systems for transfer to archives.

Type of records held

It was apparent from our information-gathering that it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, for various organisations, central and local government to locate, identify and make accessible records without guiding criteria such as a records retention schedule. (This is a system that makes clear what records must be retained and disposed). In our search for information, we learned about the many record types (see Appendix C) that might be relevant to our understanding of institutional child abuse. Unlike the health profession, however, there is no records retention schedule for social services and, in particular, children's residential services that make clear to organisations, local authorities and central government what records must be retained or destroyed.

Determining what was relevant

Records relating to children's residential services are crucial for allowing insights into how abuse was allowed to happen within children's residential establishments. These records are particularly important because there is an absence of empirical research (research that draws from observation and experience) throughout the UK, relating to child institutional abuse for the period under review (see Kendrick, 2007; Elsley, 2007; Stein, 2006; Barter, 2003).

"It is now evident that there are missing years from our history of child welfare. Recent inquiry reports have documented the years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children and young people who were living in children's homes, particularly between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s - although contemporary historical research, derived from the accounts of adults who were in care earlier, suggest a longer missing history of abuse (Rafferty & O'Sullivan 1999 in Stein 2006: 11)....we do not have a detailed picture of the prevalence or type of abuse."

Our work depended on the existence of records without which it was impossible to seek insights and to develop a better understanding about what happened in children's residential establishments. It also relied on organisations and local authorities acknowledging the significance of records for helping society to better understand children's residential services and what happened within places where children lived. Assessing what are relevant records and what was recorded was challenging work that involved working in stages. The following points emerged:

  • We had to identify local authorities and organisations associated with children's residential service provision over a 45 year period.
  • We had to identify what records might be held by local authorities, organisations and central government and where those records might be located. This was extremely time-consuming.
  • It was impossible to determine relevancy without examining the records. This was a monumental task for us, organisations and local authorities working with limited time and resources.
  • Relevant has different meanings to different people. When asked for information by the review, local authorities, organisations and central government had to make their own individualised and varying interpretations about what might be relevant and helpful to the review.
  • The issue of what and who determined record significance in the past has had significant implications for what records have been retained and for what records can be accessed. This is the case for records relating to children living in residential environments, individual children's residential establishments and children's services in general.

Our preliminary work has revealed that some records contain vast amounts of information important to the remit while other records contained little, or no, relevant information. Significant information was often buried within records relating to non-relevant matters. The task of identifying, locating and determining "relevant" information for the review, therefore, was extremely difficult for us and for the many people working for organisations and local authorities who contributed to the review.

Attitudes toward records

We found that many individuals in organisations recognised the importance of records associated with children's residential services although organisational policies did not always reflect that significance. At the same time, we also found that negative attitudes and misunderstandings about the significance of records prevailed, sometimes held by those in senior positions. These negative attitudes appeared at odds with the attitudes of others providing information to the review.

Many of the people who helped us recognised the value of records, particularly the role of records in providing insights into how abuse might have occurred within children's residential establishments. Some commented that not all lessons from the past had been learned. Several mentioned the significant historical place held by children's residential establishments and their links to other parts of Scottish society. Some remarked on the lack of historical knowledge about children's residential services and the importance of records to help society understand. The many people working in organisations and local authorities who valued the preservation of records, however, were often constrained in their attempts to locate and preserve records due to insufficient funds, lack of staff, low value placed on such records and legal concerns. According to some, for example, advice they received from solicitors and insurance companies, concerned about litigation, inhibited their ability to make records more accessible.

We found that some individuals in key positions, such as senior managers, didn't understand the significance of records. They lacked sufficient knowledge about what records existed and where such records were, or might be, located. One local authority, for example, was unable (or unwilling) to tell us where records - such as inspection reports for children's residential establishments in its area - were located. A religious organisation was unwilling to help us find out where historical records for their children's residential establishment might be found. The voluntary organisations expressed a guarded willingness, at times, to provide information, often constrained by legal and other concerns.

We were told that senior people working in social work departments had ordered records associated with children's residential services to be destroyed. These included children's files and management records. According to some archivists, the reasons for this destruction were not apparent as retention and disposal schedules were not kept and made available to them. Many records managers and archivists expressed concern about these types of decisions being made by unqualified people and the poor attitudes demonstrated by some record holders toward preserving valuable records specific to children's residential services. Some archivists also reported that they had attempted to obtain historical records for children's residential services but that senior managers in local authorities and organisations had not provided the requested information or allowed for the inspection or transfer of such records.

Former residents reported that they often faced poor attitudes from staff managing records, finding some unhelpful, lacking in emphathy and understanding about records. Their experiences parallel the findings in the Australian Parliament Senate Report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children. This report identified that carer leavers found some people with responsibility for locating records in Australia "unsympathetic and unemphathetic" as well as "lacking in understanding, capacity or willingness to provide assistance" (Parliament of Australia Senate Report, 2004).

The poor attitudes demonstrated by some staff working in key areas relating to children's residential services made identifying, locating and accessing records more difficult. At the same time, we learned that many people had a specific interest in preserving such records and who have contributed significantly in recent years to protecting such records from destruction.

Records: why are they important?

Records are important for many reasons. In its work, the Scottish Executive's Public Records Strategy (2004) examined what makes records significant, to whom and for what purpose. The strategy identified that one possible answer was "…to ensure that past experiences and lessons are not lost". Parliamentarians expressed this same opinion during their December 2004 discussion when they placed importance on records for providing insights into how abuse was allowed to happen in residential schools and children's homes between 1950 and 1995.

The Public Records Strategy identified other reasons why records are important, such as "public accountability", "to provide background and context to current and future work" and public access to information. During the workshops associated with the strategy's consultation, participants identified other purposes, such as: corporate memory, protecting rights and interests of individuals and authorities, research to produce change, legal knowledge, individual and family identity and the importance of documenting society for current and future use. "Historical interest of future generations" and "assisting social inclusion" were also identified as reasons why records should be preserved.

Drawing from the Public Records Strategy's work, the following section highlights why records are important to this review and other inquiries, organisations, local authorities and central government, future research and former residents.

Why records are important to this review and other inquiries

Fundamental to our work, as the Public Records Strategy identifies, is ensuring "…that past experiences and lessons are not lost". Past experiences, we suggest, begin yesterday and extend back throughout the centuries. Our work and other inquiries into the past could not proceed without the existence and proper preservation of records. They're essential to ensuring that we, as a society, gain insights into past experiences and learn valuable lessons as we continue to search for ways to improve the well-being of children's lives, such as those children living without parental care and in vulnerable situations.

In today's world, there are preventative, monitoring and responsive approaches taken to keeping children safe in residential care - all of which rely on current and past records. Preventative and monitoring approaches rely upon suitably generated records, such as those created through assessments, reviews, incidents, complaints and inspections. Responsive approaches, often taking the form of investigations and inquiries, also rely upon properly maintained records - past and present - to review current and historical practices possibly harmful to children. By analysing information within records, inspections and inquiries can reveal what has happened and what can be improved upon "…to ensure that past experiences and lessons are not lost". In other words, records are extremely important for contributing to informed decision-making about keeping children safe and responding to claims of abuse.

The Bichard Inquiry (2004) into the deaths of two children in England who were killed by someone known to them, examined record-keeping practices to learn about whether these might have contributed to, or prevented, the children's deaths. The inquiry found there were many problems with the review, retention and deletion of records, leading to confusion and poor decision-making by the police and social services. These conclusions led the Bichard Inquiry to make many recommendations for changes in current records practices that will ultimately determine, as well, what historical records will exist for the future.

In Scotland, one independent review examined services provided to the families of children neglected and abused within their community. This review included investigators from police, health, education and social work inspectorate services (Social Work Inspection Agency, 2005). The final report stated that the review depended upon local authority, agency and health records to make certain that the "...life stories of the three children...were at the centre of our investigation". The fact that these records existed and could be examined meant that the investigators were able to establish important facts about the children's lives, conduct "...an analysis of practice, policy and management of all agencies involved", and make key recommendations for improving their child protection services. From a systemic perspective, investigators depended on records for providing insights into what happened to the children that led to their abuse.

Records were important to fulfilling our mandate. They're also essential to other inquiry processes investigating, from historical and contemporary perspectives, matters relating to children, their welfare and their protection.

Children's residential establishments, voluntary and religious organisations, local authorities and central government

Individual residential establishments, voluntary and religious organisations, local authorities and central government have a vested interest in ensuring that records are generated, properly managed and preserved. This is also a legal obligation. Contemporary records in these locations are needed to evaluate, monitor and respond to children's entitlements to excellent quality care. Various records types, such as personal files, incident reports, complaints records and logs, are relied upon for monitoring children's safety and responding to concerns, while records are also associated with organisations being held accountable.

Historical records are important because they embody corporate memory: they make sure that when individuals leave work, the information they've gleaned through their careers is retained. Available and properly generated records also make possible contemporary and historical analyses, investigations, monitoring and audits - internal and external. All of these hold organisations, local authorities and central government accountable for the quality of their services, while possibly contributing to a better understanding of residential childcare services.

Further research

There is a growing interest in Scotland's social history and childhood, as evidenced by the proliferation of research about adults' childhood experiences as well as other experiences associated with, for example, life in inner-city tenements, shipyards, coal mines and during the slave trade era. There is a gap in the empirical research (research that draws from observation and experience) about children's experiences in children's residential establishments in Scotland between 1950 and 1995. Research into children's residential services, particularly for the earlier years, could be enhanced by further study.

Records for children's residential services make that research possible while allowing, as well, for an exploration into the relationship between children's residential services, children's experiences and other sectors of society. Some suggest it is important to acknowledge that children who lived in children's residential establishments are the same people who fought for Scotland during the wars, contributed to society's betterment and, in particular, worked to enhance the well-being of young people growing up a generation later. Research into the childhood experiences of children in children's residential establishments in Scotland can establish those links.

There is a lack of research into historical abuse in children's residential establishments. Records should be identified, located and made accessible to researchers who can add to a body of historical knowledge about childhood experiences relating to abuse. Social research can improve our understanding about what happened in children's residential establishments and influence what needs to change to improve the lives of children in care today.

Former residents of children's residential establishments

Former residents (see also Appendix D) told us that records about their lives and children's residential establishments have great significance to them for many reasons, which follow.

Historical accounts:

Advocates focusing upon reparation for survivors of abuse suggest that developing accurate historical accounts is necessary to help survivors heal from injustices 11. Developing historical accounts takes many forms, including an analysis of records that must be located and made accessible. Historical accounts can contribute to reconciliation arising from human rights abuses. This is exemplified in South Africa by the work of its Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"I hope that the work of the Commission, by opening wounds to cleanse them, will thereby stop them from festering. We cannot be facile and say bygones will be bygones, because they will not be bygones and will return to haunt us. True reconciliation is never cheap, for it is based on forgiveness which is costly. Forgiveness in turn depends on repentance, which has to be based on an acknowledgement of what was done wrong, and therefore on disclosure of the truth. You cannot forgive what you do not know… 12"

Bishop Tutu, as Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, argued that learning about past events through historical accounts and disclosure of truth is an essential component to reconciling past abuses. In Scotland, former residents indicated that they want a historical account of their experiences in children's residential establishments to emerge. Survivors of institutional child abuse place huge importance upon records for insights into their circumstances, for informing any legal proceeding they're involved in and for helping them to heal from the long-lasting effects of child abuse. The 1998 Law Commission of Canada discussion paper on institutional child abuse reveals that through their research survivors of institutional child abuse identified, among their various needs, the "need for establishing the historical record":

"Many survivors have expressed the need to have a permanent, physical reminder to memorialise the fact of their abuse and to establish an archive of their experiences...[they] also need to ensure that history will not be written or rewritten as continuing denial" (Law Commission of Canada, 1998).

Former residents' rights:

Former residents have legal rights, including human rights entitlements under the Human Rights Act 1998 which stipulates that "…[e]veryone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence…" 13. Records associated with children's residential establishments - the homes where former residents' lived as children - play a critical role in the interpretation of what respect means to former residents for their private and family life, their homes and their correspondence. Former residents state that those records are important in terms of what they reveal - and don't reveal - about them as individuals, and about their experiences.

In particular, records are important to ensure that former residents realise their entitlements under freedom of information and data protection legislation, which grant former residents the right to view records associated with their experiences. Records are critical for ensuring that former residents experience their right to justice and to fair and proper legal or administrative proceedings. It is important that former residents aren't denied these entitlements because significant records cannot be located.

Search for identity:

Some former residents lacking basic information about their lives reported that they don't have a sense of belonging or identity. They described how they're responding to a basic human need to better understand who they are and who they are associated with.

Searching for identity is often associated with general interest in family history and social background. This has become a burgeoning area, with archivists reporting unprecedented requests from adults for records about their past. Hundreds of thousands of orphans, for example, separated from their parents during the Holocaust are searching for information about their families after nearly 60 years. An international tracing centre established after the war forwarded approximately 12 million files to a museum in Jerusalem, the first batch of 50 million files to be released after government and Jewish organisation lobbying (Scotland on Sunday, 2007).

Child migrants' search for information in records is linked to their search for an identity that derives from "...certainty about individual circumstances and knowing about oneself" (Parliament of Australia Senate, 2004). Many child migrants reported to an Australian Senate committee that they found their loss of identity a great hardship. Former residents contacting this review told about experiences similar to those reported by child migrants, with some former residents indicating that they have siblings who were child migrants. An Australian report on those who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children states that:

"People who make the decision to apply for their records are on a journey of self discovery. They are dealing with the unfinished business of their childhood. People searching want to understand more about the circumstances that led to their placement in care, who their parents were and whether or not they have brothers or sisters. In addition some people have recollections about their time in care, and are keen to see if there is any verification of the experiences they remember. We have an obligation to assist in this journey and to help these adults complete what has been unfinished for them, often for many years'' (Parliament of Australia Senate, 2004).

There are many reasons why former residents as children may not have learned information important to them as adults. There is evidence to suggest that, in the earlier years under review, adults responsible for children in residential establishments placed little value on providing information to children. In turn children were often silent, afraid to ask questions and express their concerns. Many children were isolated from or had little contact with siblings, families and friends. Children removed from families experienced trauma that inhibited learning and focusing on information that they now realise, as adults, is important to their sense of belonging and identity.

There is evidence that authorities placed restrictions on family members who were trying to contact children. Children weren't informed about their family members' inquiries about them. Former residents say that, as a result, they have gaps in knowledge about their families and their circumstances. At the same time, some former residents report vivid memories of some childhood experiences, which they want to verify in some tangible and physical way.

Many former residents reported that they had, and continue to have, no understanding about why they were placed in children's residential establishments away from their family. Some want to trace other family members, as they were often separated from siblings and parents at a young age. Many reported that they didn't know why they were denied contact with their family members. Others said they were searching for confirmation of their birth names (which may have been changed on placement), birthdates, birthplace, educational background, medical histories, family members' names and family histories. Some former residents are searching for information about other child residents, employees and key adult figures in their lives.

The British House of Commons Health Select Committee Report (1998) on the welfare of former British child migrants highlights that many report similar experiences to those living in children's residential establishments in Scotland. In that report, the Committee recognised the need for former child migrants to have and to access their individual records:

"This is of great importance to them as a means of coming to terms with their past experiences, achieving a fuller sense of personal identity, and (in some cases) making contact with surviving relatives in the UK and elsewhere. In addition, health difficulties may be caused by the absence of complete medical records" (British House of Commons Health Select Committee Report,1998).

Former residents stated that they were often provided with erroneous information about their family lives, for example, that they were orphans when one or both parents were alive. Some believed their families had abandoned them or didn't want them. For those people in both groups who assumed they had no family ties, many reported that they didn't look for family members until years later when they requested their records and learned that other family members existed:

"Their lies prevented me from searching for my family after I had left the home. I had been told I had no family...I was told there was nobody to look for. Their deception cost me my identity and any chance at a family life, I had to invent myself and then live with confusion for decades'' (Parliament of Australia Senate Report, 2001).

Some former residents in Scotland have discovered that parents contributed to their upkeep when they lived as children in children's residential establishments - a fact they didn't know until they saw their records as older adults. Former residents say this knowledge is important because it reflects their parents' concern for their welfare.

Practical implications:

There are practical implications for former residents who lack basic information about their lives in that they may find it difficult to obtain passports, birth certificates before marriage and gather their medical histories. The personal details known to most of us , including birth names, birthdates, nationality, mother's maiden name and so on, may be unknown to former residents making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to complete questionnaires "…and so there is a tendency to avoid any situation that requires this kind of information…We have become invisible citizens'' (Parliament of Australia Senate Report, 2001).

A sense of belonging:

Some former residents told us that for many years they felt socially excluded from those who grew up in family homes, knowing their parents, siblings and other family members. Records may permit former residents to trace their family connections and to move towards a sense of belonging to family and community. Families and descendants of former residents may also want to know about their family members as there are historical associations that are important to families and their descendants.

Many years ago children who died in large children's homes, for example, were buried at the back of graveyards in large unmarked graves. These children were the daughters, sons, siblings and relatives of people today who are searching for verification of family experiences and family identity, both of which contribute to feelings of belonging to societies that value family life.

General interest:

Former residents' interest extends beyond their own circumstances and placements. Some said that, as children, they didn't know that other children's residential establishments existed throughout Scotland. As a result, they've developed an interest as adults in learning more about the widespread institutionalisation of children. Some have visited the locations of former large children's homes. Former residents have searched in museums, libraries and archives for records and discovered photographs of earlier children's residential establishments. What former residents have learned, however, is that it's difficult to find records as no central system for children's residential services identifies where records are held.

Missing historical records: myths and realities

It was evident from the beginning of our information-gathering that records were missing from various locations although it wasn't evident why. Former residents, parliamentarians, the courts and the Scottish Information Commissioner have all questioned why records relating to children's residential establishments appear to be missing. Organisations and local authorities may not know why records can't be located. While it's often assumed that, when records are missing, they don't exist, we found that this wasn't always the case.

The Scottish Information Commissioner ( SIC) addressed the topic of missing records in his report ('the SIC report')about the Scottish Executive Education Department's ( SEED) search for records:

"The issue of missing records or gaps in records was raised by several Members of the Scottish Parliament during the course of their debate on institutional child abuse in December. The tracing of relevant records has also been a considerable practical issue in the action currently being considered by the Court of Session. The availability of records has been continuing concern of members of INCAS...the definition of 'missing' is clearly important and I have given much consideration to this matter'' (Scottish Information Commissioners Report, 2005).

The SIC report indicated that "missing" may imply that records existed in the first instance and that they've been lost or destroyed. The SIC report found that the existing SEED records contained "gaps" and lacked consistency, although it noted that records were very much "of their time".

"They contain large amounts of miscellaneous information and there are gaps in the series of documents within them. It is also not clear what they ought to contain beyond reports of statutory inspections and even the timescales for these are not clear'' (Scottish Information Commissioners Report, 2005).

The Australian Senate Report (2001) into child migration found that various factors impacted the source of available information to child migrants about what information they could locate. Examples included the volume of information initially available, record-keeping practices and the survival of physical records throughout the years. The report noted that other factors made records difficult to locate, including the imprecise requirements about what information to record and other details about what must or must not be kept and by whom. As later chapters identify, these factors had an impact on record-keeping in Scotland as well.

In our search for information, we found that certain records that were believed to be missing may not have been generated in the first place, or had been destroyed. We also found, however, that adequate searching for records associated with children's residential services has not taken place throughout Scotland. During our review, for example, organisations and local authorities located records that had previously been unidentified. It also became apparent that records thought to be missing may exist in unknown locations. With the passage of time, individuals with corporate memories of records have left their employment and knowledge about what records exist and where left with them. As information about the transfer of records often went unrecorded, it was, and can be, difficult for organisations and government to locate existing records. This work has been made difficult, in part, because legislation has not required proper records management (see Chapter 3).

In general, we found that records about children's residential services in Scotland may exist in larger numbers than is realised and in previously undisclosed locations. While many records from the past appear to be missing, it is too early to conclude that missing records associated with children's residential services do not exist or cannot be located.

Conclusion

The remit of the review specifically refers to records. However, the remit is based on numerous assumptions about records that do not take account of the realities of locating and accessing records associated with children's residential services. Various issues arose for us, making information-gathering and locating and accessing records extremely challenging:

Central databases: None exist for children's residential services that cover the 45 period under review.

Definitions for "residential schools" and "children's homes": Many terms have been used throughout the years to describe residential settings for children.

Service provision: Residential services have been varied, extensive and changing services from 1950 to 1995.

Existence of records: There have been no records retention and disposal schedules for records associated with children's residential establishments, therefore, it is impossible to know what records should or do exist without laborious searching.

'Public records' definition: This definition is unclear and access to records held by private bodies, providing public services, depends upon their goodwill.

Records location, volume and types: There are large numbers of different record types in many locations and not all records have been put into records management systems, archived or both of these.

Access to records: It is complicated to access records, due to legal restrictions and the lack of standardised access to records policies.

Records as 'relevant': Determining record relevancy is subjective and difficult to assess without examining records, a time-consuming task requiring adequate resources.

Attitudes: Some helpful and some poor attitudes may determine access to relevant information.

While records were essential to our work, we learned that records are also very important to many individuals for many reasons. Organisations and government depend on records, while records are also necessary for future research. Records have particular significance to former residents for several reasons such as their search for identity, establishing a historical account, practical administrative challenges in daily life, their sense of belonging and general interest. Records also ensure that former residents' rights are realised, specifically their rights under human rights, freedom of information and data protection legislation.

Many children's residential establishment records appear to be missing, but there is evidence that these records may exist in far greater numbers than is known. It is critical that the importance of records - which is apparent to former residents, archivists and others - is known by people responsible for generating and managing records to ensure that significant records for children's residential establishments are preserved and made accessible.

Chapter 2: Former residents' experiences

Introduction

This chapter reports on the challenges faced by former residents contacting us with identifying, locating and accessing records associated with children's residential services. Records, as noted in the previous chapter, are extremely important to former residents. They're also relevant to inquiries such as this review. They can offer substantial insights into approaches to keeping children safe in residential placements and, in particular, monitoring practices related to individual children. The legacy of good and bad practices in the past may be illustrated in records. Records may also reflect attitudes towards children and whether children are valued. The records important to former residents, therefore, are important to us all.

We've appreciated the willingness of former residents to share their very difficult experiences relating to records and what their individual records show. This has allowed us to better understand the importance of records, how abuse can happen in children's residential establishments and how records continue to impact on people's lives many years after they leave an establishment. By examining information within individuals' records, for example, it was possible to see how the social and geographical isolation of some children in residential placements put them at serious risk. The records for many older former residents show a dearth of information about family contact and relationships with outside professionals, which created additional vulnerability in children already vulnerable due to their out-of-home placements.

Former residents lived in children's residential establishments managed by local authorities, voluntary and religious organisations with direct and indirect central government involvement. They were placed as children for many reasons, often related to inadequate social conditions such as poverty, poor health and lack of family support. Many crave insights into their childhood experiences, which they hope to gain by locating and accessing records associated with their experiences in residential establishments. As the following shows, however, it was extremely difficult for some former residents to find information about the past.

Former residents' experiences with records

Visits to graveyards showed that children who died in children's residential establishments are buried there although it is unknown how many due to poor record practices. Some children lie in unmarked graves. Former residents who lived in one children's home described their attempts to find records for children who died while they'd lived in that same home. These deceased children are buried in a large area within a local graveyard. While some organisations have kept records identifying the children who died in their establishments, the former residents found there were few records identifying the deceased children and few records about their deaths.

Some former residents believe that society may never know how many children died in residential establishments, who the children were, where they're buried and the reasons for their deaths. What their experience suggests, however, is that their difficulty in locating information reveals the low importance placed on the children's identity and the children's value to their extended families and others. Some former residents believe it is essential to identify those children and acknowledge them in a humane, caring way that reflects the equal importance of those children to others.

Archivists described their experiences with former residents searching for records. An archivist working for a religious organisation, for example, told about a former resident who, as a 63-year-old, wanted to know why he went into their children's home. The archivist said the organisation didn't have all their children's records (and many records they held contained scant information). In this situation, however, the archivist was able to locate this man's record. In it, the archivist discovered very many letters that the children's home manager had exchanged with this man's mother throughout the numerous years he spent in the children's home. The man had never seen the letters.

Another archivist working for a religious organisation described how he had received a visit from an elderly man looking for information about his stay in its children's residential establishment. While the organisation had no children's record for this former resident, it had a children's register that listed all the children and provided details about their admission. According to the archivist, the man looking for information about his childhood wanted to hold the register as it was the only tangible evidence existing that confirmed he had stayed in the children's home.

Former residents, in their 40s, 50s and 60s told us that they had difficulty locating and accessing their individual records and other information. They also said how disappointed they were to find such little information and how distressed they became at reading some information for the first time once they'd obtained their records. Some older former residents had seen their individual records while others were still trying to locate their records and other information. Archivists reported that family members and generations of families were also requesting information about family members and ancestors. The former residents of children's residential establishments who were seeking records and who contacted us were older adults. This pattern is consistent with a wider population of adults who often begin their family history searches in their later years. The following describes some former residents' experiences, as told to us.

"Mr C"

Mr C lived in a large children's home for 18 years. In January 2007 he requested his personal records from the organisation responsible for managing the home, receiving his records in May 2007 with a letter explaining their contents. When he reviewed his records, he was surprised at how little information they contained after spending such a long time at the home. Despite spending time at the local hospital and receiving medical examinations, for example, he said there was no medical information. Mr C said his records contained "a spattering of details about family", "entry" into the children's home, "some school reports" and "written home parents' reports". Mr C said that "…all the records lack detail or sufficient information to provide a true reflection…" of his stay at the children's home or "…to allow any evaluation of abuse or abnormal behaviour within a child under care. Actually I would go so far to say that the record seemed to be doctored and do not reflect a complete picture of my stay…" at the home.

Until Mr C received his records in May 2007, he believed he was an only child with no family. When he read his records, however, he learned that he had a "…half brother, many aunts and uncles together with extended family of cousins and nieces." Mr C says he was able to locate his family easily despite his records stating that there was a lack of information about his father. Mr C says his records identify the ship his father served on and the period he served in the Navy, making it possible for him to identify his father's position in the Navy and to possibly make contact with him. Mr C thinks it's possible that the children's home could have contacted the Navy to see if it was possible for him to have some contact with his father. Mr C would like to know "…what information has been deleted" from his records and "…what criminal acts have been covered up…"

Mr C has typed his records and put them into a timeline "…to determine some history of [the children's home] not only for my own peace of mind but also because I was abused (physical and sexual) at this home… I know that abuse has been covered up and the record certainly show that cover up with missing medical records… Having written to [the children's home] to enquire about the missing records medical records there seems to be a complete blank as to what happened to all medical records health and dental when all health and dental matters were handled through the [children's home's] hospital and dental surgery."

"Mrs E"

The circumstances in which Mrs E received her personal records from the children's home began with an article published in a national newspaper about her experiences. The children's home staff member visited her at her home after reading the article, saying the information in the article "had come to them completely out of the blue". He told Mrs E he would get someone to access information about her from the children's home. At the time, Mrs E was 62 years old. She expected records to be the reports about the children that went every month to the children's home central office from the places where the children lived. An after-care worker then visited her home, leaving documents for her to read. These, she found, were records about her placement.

Mrs E lived in a large children's home for 16 years. While living there, she says, she was told she "was an orphan from the gutter". During her time at the home, Mrs E says she never saw another person she knew. Later, when reading her records as an elderly person, she learned she had a twin brother who also stayed at the children's home and a father who contributed a weekly sum to her care. Mrs E said there was a man named in her file, as she read the information in it, but he wasn't identified as her father (which he was) and the man who contributed to her care.

In the years Mrs E lived in the children's home, she was unaware that she had other relatives in her children's home. Reading through her records, she was shocked to discover she had three cousins, two boys and a girl, living there. She became very upset reading her record information when she learned that they were orphans as her father's older brother, their father, had died very suddenly. She also learned information about the children that she believed should not have been in her own records.

When reading through her records, Mrs E saw that the girl named in her file - her cousin - lived in the same cottage as she had as a small girl. Mrs E knew her as a "big girl", who was beaten. Whenever this girl was beaten, Mrs E says she was taken by the hand and told that would happen to her one day. Mrs E says she can still hear her screams and that the shock and horror of knowing that this girl was related to her haunts her today. She also read in her records that she had an older brother who had looked after her and her twin brother. Years later, when Mrs E was looking for her twin brother she discovered that she also had a mother who was still alive, who had a twin sister with children.

Mrs E says she found the experience of accessing her personal records, at 62 years of age, extremely distressing. She said that the process left her without a sense of belonging to a family and without a sense of identity as she had never known her family while she lived in the children's home and for many years thereafter.

"Mr. G"

As a 10-year old, Mr G, who lived in one local authority, was placed at an approved school in another local authority in the late 1950s. He said that he came from a "loving home". Prior to his placement, his father had died at 42 years and his mother had difficulty coping with a large family while living in impoverished circumstances. When Mr G was discharged from the approved school after three years, he described how he was called to the clothing store, given a set of clothes, put on a bus and told that his mother would meet him at the bus station in his home local authority. Throughout his time at the approved school, Mr G said he received little information about his family circumstances and about why he continued to reside at the approved school for a three-year period.

Mr G told us that he'd been trying to locate his personal records, particularly his record about his approved school experience, since January 2003. In 2007 he was still trying to locate information about the approved school and his individual records. During this search, he said he'd learned that records for him should have been held by the placing local authority's social work department while the approved school should also have had them. As he was placed through the court system, with Department of Education involvement, he said he believed it was possible that the related departments had records as well. He added that he'd learned that approved school management records should have existed as well - records generated at the approved school, by the approved school's external managers, by social work departments and at central government level.

In January 2003, Mr G said he began by contacting the Information Commissioner, asking for information about where he might locate his records for his time at the approved school. In response, the Commissioner's office referred him to the Scottish Executive Education Department (' SEED'). After receiving the Information Commission office's letter, in July 2003 Mr G wrote to SEED providing information about the approved school and asking for access to any related records held by SEED. In February 2005, he received a reply in which SEED said they had spent the "…last 6 months identifying the files we hold on residential establishments in order that we can make these available to view to anyone with an interest. We do not hold any personal files but do have files which relate to the management, running and inspection of some establishments. These files are now available to view."

The letter added that general files for "some establishments" were available to view at the National Archives of Scotland ( NAS) and provided contact details for NAS, indicating that information could be viewed there unless it was exempted under the Freedom of Information legislation. Mr G, who lives in England, was told that SEED had redacted (removed information, such as personal details) from some files to make them publicly accessible and that his name did not appear in any redacted files. SEED said it held files relating to the approved school that Mr G had attended and for the period he attended. If he wanted to see these files he should contact a named person at SEED, and to do so with another person if he wanted someone to accompany him.

In October 2005 Mr G also wrote to a local authority's children's services division to ask about where he might get information about his school records for the period he attended the approved school. He wrote to the local authority where the approved school was located. A response in October 2005 said that "pupil records" follow children from establishment to establishment and that, when a pupil leaves full-time education, the last establishment to provide education is required to retain the pupil record for five years. The officer who wrote the letter said the local authority had adopted a policy of sending all records "…for confidential destruction after five years" and, when an establishment managed by the authority closed, the records were "held centrally" for five years. The officer advised Mr G that the approved school wasn't managed by the local authority he had written to and that he should contact the last school he attended. The officer added: "I appreciate your desire to track your school records, but from previous experience obtaining records from this period is extremely difficult."

In February 2006, the same local authority officer wrote to Mr G stating that as the approved school he attended wasn't a local authority school, they didn't hold any related pupil records. The officer said, however, that he had forwarded Mr G's inquiries to the local authorities' archivist to see if any records were held there and that if information was found Mr G would be told. The following month, Mr G received a letter from the local authority's archives services stating that they didn't hold any records for the approved school. Mr G was advised to contact the archivist for the religious order at the approved school G had attended.

Mr G also wrote to another local authority's social work services department to ask for any records they may have relating to his placement at the approved school, as he had lived in that local authority before his placement. In March 2006, he received a letter from a senior child protection officer who asked him to outline the steps he had taken in his search for records and to provide his full name and address.

In the meantime, following the local authority's archivist's advice, Mr G wrote to the religious order's archivist to ask if the religious order had any records about his stay at the approved school. In April 2006, Mr G received a letter from the religious order's solicitors in which they indicated that the religious order "did not run Schools in Scotland. The Schools were run by a Board of Managers", who were the employers of the members of staff which included members of the religious order. The solicitor told Mr G that, for those reasons, the religious order "…do not hold the school records and they have never done so". The solicitors also stated that the School closed in the 1980s and that the National Archives in Scotland may hold documentation relating to the school.

Mr G wrote to the religious order again and asked about the school managers who appointed the religious order. The religious order's solicitors responded in a June 2006 letter by stating that the board of managers did not "appoint" the order members but rather the order members were "employed" by the managers. The letter continued: "In law there is a substantial difference between the Order running a school and members of the Order being employed at the school." The solicitors also told Mr G that the religious order had no contact details for the approved school managers for the 1950s. A subsequent letter from the religious order's solicitors in July 2006 stated that Mr G's letter to the religious order's provincial office had been forwarded to them. They reiterated that the religious order had no "details of the Board of Managers" who employed members of the religious order in the late 1950s, also stating that the religious order "…would have had no reason to hold such information".

After reviewing a management file for the approved school (held by SEED), Mr G wrote to the solicitors stating that he had seen a report in which it stated that the approved school "…is owned and administered…" by the religious order. The solicitors replied that the report was incorrect and that the religious order never owned or administered the approved school. In their letter, the solicitors quoted the Approved Schools (Scotland) Rules 1961 (Statutory Instrument 1961) which provided for "…Managers to determine the number, type and qualifications of staff to be employed by them. The same statutory instruments also provided for disciplinary action against members of staff." The letter added that the "…contention in the final paragraph of your letter can also be readily explained. However, there is little point in doing so as you clearly do not accept what can be checked from other sources…we do not propose to enter into a wider dialogue at our clients expense".

In September 2006, Mr G received another letter from the local authority's social work services department, senior child protection officer who said she was still trying to trace his social work records. She wrote: "To date I have had no success but I have again contacted the City Council Archivist to request their assistance." She added that she would keep him informed of her progress. Mr G wrote to a city council archivist to ask if the archives held his individual records but received no reply. In our general inquiries, we were unable to determine where Mr G's records might be located.

In October 2007, almost five years later, G hasn't found any records that verify he spent three years at an approved school in Scotland. He's been unable to locate and access any personal information about his childhood for that period of time, including information about his family, placement, education and health.

"Mr. J"

Mr J and his siblings were placed in a large children's home in the 1950s after their father died during the Second World War, his mother developed tuberculosis and his extended family was unable to care for them. Mr J, who describes his home as a "good home", says his mother had to "work hard" to have her children returned to her after she recovered from her illness.

In 1998, he began his search for records relating to his experiences at the children's home and in 2007 he still hadn't found them. Mr. J stated that, on the other hand, he has received his complete records from the army. He wrote an initial letter to his local authority social work department requesting his children's home records. Mr J says he received a response from a social worker in the department stating that they couldn't find any record of his time spent there. According to Mr J, the social worker said that she'd written to another local authority to request information about records they might possibly hold, but they held no records relating to Mr J or the children's home.

Mr J then wrote to the religious organisation that had responsibility for the children's home to ask for information about his records. The organisation's archivist responded and, in her letter, provided information about Mr J gleaned from the children's home registers held at the organisation's provincial house. This information included Mr. J's date of admission, his father's name and the date he was killed in active service, his mother's name and her address. The letter stated that Mr J's mother, during his admission, was staying in a sanatorium. The religious organisation's archives held no other information about Mr J's experiences in the children's home.

In 2005, Mr J wrote to the local authority where the children's home was located asking for information about the home under freedom of information legislation. The reply, from the local authority's "directorate policy and support officer", told Mr J that he could not seek "personal information" under the freedom of information legislation as those requests fell under data protection legislation. However the letter said that the officer would consider his request under both sets of legislation and provide him with any "general information" about the children's home. The officer indicated that she would also check the records "once again" for any possible "personal data" they might hold although she indicated it was unlikely she would find any information.

In response to Mr J's request in 2005 to access his records, a local authority administrative assistant working in the social work department wrote to him that she had forwarded his request to the head of child and family services "for consideration" and that the head of service or a member of her team would contact him. He received a letter dated November 2005 from a social work department fieldwork manager, stating that he had requested an archival search and would get back to Mr J with information. In January 2006 Mr J received a letter from the manager stating that after further archival searching, "…no record of your period at [the children's home] can be found".

Further to a telephone conversation, Mr J received a letter from the fieldwork manager stating that he had submitted another archival search for Mr J's records and providing the address for the religious organisation running the children's home during Mr J's placement. As Mr J had already contacted the religious organisation and learned they had no records for him, he did not follow this up. In February, 2006 Mr J received a letter from the fieldwork manager stating: "…there is no trace of any files relating to you or other family members for whom you provided details".

In addition to writing letters, M J told us, he made numerous phone calls and visited the regional archive where social work departments from various local authorities had deposited records. He said he'd attended the regional archive because another former resident, who lived in the same children's home during the same year, had located his records there. However when he visited the archive, the archivist told him he wasn't allowed to see his records. Rather, the archivist needed to inform the appropriate local authority social work department about his request and send his record to that department to be reviewed by a social worker before Mr J could see them. Mr J later learned that he could see his records but the archivist was unable to locate them. The local authority social work department had no recording to show what had happened to the records.

Mr J told us that in February 2007 he visited the regional archives for a second time to ask if his file was found. He left information for the archivist to contact him but didn't hear from her, which he described as "bad manners". At the time of this report Mr J still hadn't located his personal records or other pertinent information relating to his childhood experiences in a large children's home.

"Ms Y"

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ms Y lived as a young child, together with her siblings, in a large children's home. When she requested her personal records some time ago, she was told they had been lost in a fire in the 1980s. Ms Y said that in recent months, her brother asked for and received his records from the organisations responsible for the children's home. Her brother's records contained personal information about her, however, and she said she was "disgusted" with the organisation for passing on the information without her consent. She reported that it also concerned her that the information was sent by "everyday post".

Also in recent months, when Ms Y's sister requested her records, Ms Y said that she had accompanied her sister to the organisation where the records were held. She learned that her own records still existed and she was able to obtain them. When she reviewed her records she didn't see certain information she expected the records to contain and noticed that the date for her mother's death was inaccurate. When she asked the organisation where her mother was buried, she was told that her mother had not died and that she was living in England after remarrying. Ms Y told us that she was "devastated" and waited two weeks for the organisation to contact her mother after they said they'd try to reach her. Eventually the organisation contacted Ms Y to say that they had "made a mistake" and her mother was dead, although they didn't know where she was buried. She told them that they had recorded the wrong date for her mother's death in the record and told them where her mother was buried - information the organisation put into the record.

It is her understanding that the house parents and social work department kept records about the children at the children's home but she described the records as a "complete joke". Her sister didn't get the same background information about their family as she did and the information in her brother's records wasn't the same as the information in her and her sister's records. Ms Y said there were "things in the files that aren't true", which she wanted removed from the records. She said the organisation took the information out and burned it.

Ms Y had the impression that the organisation decided what information from the records they would give to Ms Y and her sister before they could see the records. She did not see information recorded about the concerns that led to her placement but she did see information like "attention seeker", "she tells lies" and "psychiatric referral". Ms Y said this type of labelling concerned her, describing how, at eight years old, she was taken from her family when her mother died and, when placed in the children's home, she was told to "dry her face and get on with it". She was initially separated from all her siblings except her oldest sister, who was "made to beat [her] up". She said the children's home staff did not demonstrate any empathy or understanding about the effects of death, her removal from her family and the damage to her sibling and family relationships. Ms Y told us there was no documentation in her records about the "punishments", "the cold baths", putting her in a shed or giving her a toothbrush to scrub walls.

She said the organisation offered no counselling services to people who access their records: services she thinks are very important.

Challenges for former residents: locating and accessing records

Some former residents (see also Appendix E) reported that it was difficult to return to the organisation responsible for managing the establishment where they lived because of unhappy memories associated with their experiences. Former residents also said they were told that the interests of third parties needed to be protected. It appeared to them that organisations and local authorities treated the records of former residents as institutional property that former residents did not have an entitlement to see. In their opinion, data protection and freedom of information legislation appeared to make certain records less accessible to them.

Several former residents in the 1950s and 1960s stated that they were refused access to their records because they were told they needed to be "protected" from information that other adults, such as social workers, determined might have been "traumatic" for them to read. These former residents were told that they had to access their records through a social work department, if the records were held by local authorities. They couldn't access their records unless the social work department requested the records on their behalf, reviewed the records and then appointed a social worker to sit with them while the former residents reviewed the records.

Some former residents said they were opposed to this approach. They also believed it was possible that employees in social work departments and organisations would remove information from records if those employees perceived it as damaging to their institutions. While some former residents understood the importance of counselling support, they wanted a choice about whom and under what circumstances such support was offered. Some indicated they didn't want support from people working for the local authority or organisation responsible for the children's residential establishment where they had lived. Some stated they interpreted some access records policies as "paternalistic".

Some former residents who accessed their records indicated that their disappointment at the poor quality of record-keeping, lack of record completeness (particularly relating to education and medical information), inaccuracy and missing pages. In some instances, their names had been changed, family names were spelled incorrectly and dates of birth were altered. Some former residents indicated that they wanted the opportunity to add information to their records - setting the record straight. Some thought certain information was not properly recorded, had been withheld inappropriately, falsified or lost. Others were unable to locate any record about their time in an establishment. In their search for family information, some former residents learned that they had siblings who died in children's residential establishments or parents who died shortly before or after their placement.

Former residents' experiences parallel challenges arising for former child migrants who wanted to locate and access records about their experiences. Some former residents had siblings who were sent abroad through child migration schemes. In their investigation into child migration, the British House of Commons Health Select Committee (1998) published a report that recognised the need for former child migrants to have access to their records. The report also stated that, in Australia, freedom of information fees were waived for child migrants who wanted to see their records. The report concluded that the "…overall picture remains one of unnecessary delays and difficulties being put in the way of former child migrants seeking to locate and retrieve information about their past and their birth-families."

"We recommend that sending and receiving agencies, local authorities and governments should accept the principle that all relevant information held on former child migrants should be passed on, with due sensitivity, to those concerned, their descendants or representatives, on request'' (British House of Commons Health Select Committee, 1998).

The Australian Parliament Senate Report (2001) into child migration states that "there is very little information available" about the childhoods of child migrants, which may be held by a number of different organisations. The report found that while children's records, for example, should have contained certain information, such as birth certificates, baptismal certificates, health reports and school reports, the records did not contain this information. Some people reported that their records did not contain the name of a mother or father, place of birth or their birth date was incorrect.

The report also found that family background information was scant and non-existent in some instances. It found, however, that practices on personal records varied from organisation to organisation. Some had scant or no information while others had more substantial information. The report discussed the poor attitudes towards making children's records and other information accessible to child migrants, which, in turn, made it difficult for child migrants to reunite with their families. These findings, and others in the report, are similar to what former residents describe as their experiences in Scotland.

In summary, former residents identified numerous barriers in trying to locate and access records relating to children's residential establishments. These barriers included:

  • the state of records thought to be missing;
  • lack of a central location where people can request information and receive advocacy support about where and how to search for records;
  • lack of a central location that has details about what records exist;
  • lack of a central location that provides specialised guidance on records management and access policies;
  • unfamiliarity with the extent of locations where records may be located;
  • unfamiliarity with the types of records that may be available;
  • lack of clear, consistent and supported access to records policies;
  • lack of knowledge about record-keeping requirements;
  • expense;
  • distance required to travel to locations where records are held;
  • lack of computer access and literacy;
  • poor attitudes, such as little understanding about records' significance, resistance to disclosure and a patronising approach to making records available;
  • confusion about records control and ownership;
  • litigation concerns;
  • incomplete records;
  • poor quality of information photocopied;
  • considerable time and perseverance required to locate records;
  • delays in responding to requests for information about records;
  • former residents' mistrust of keepers of records;
  • lack of consistent records management and archival practice; and
  • inadequacies in legislation to ensure records are preserved within archives.

Conclusion

Former residents who lived in children's residential establishments have rights associated with records. These include the legal entitlement to view records associated with their childhood experiences in residential placements. Some former residents contacting the review, however, found that locating and accessing records associated with children's residential establishments is fraught with challenges. There is no central tracing database, for example, to assist former residents seeking information about their experiences, their family history and children's residential establishments in general.

The described experiences of former residents contacting the review illustrate the many difficulties former residents encountered when trying to locate information they expected to be available to them. Located records often don't contain the information former residents expected, or hoped, to see. Some residents are upset when they read certain information in their records for the first time as elderly adults. Some records are missing. Poor records management in the past has meant that some former residents are unable to realise their legal entitlements to access records.

The challenges faced by former residents contacting our review are consistent with experiences highlighted in other inquiries, such as those into child migration and institutional child abuse. 14 Some key aspects include:

Locating records: Records may be located in several locations and information in many types of records, unknown and unidentified to former residents. These records may also exist in places at considerable geographical distance from where former residents live, requiring them to incur significant costs to access records.

Missing records: Records may be missing for various reasons, such as inadequate searching, the misplacement of records or because records have been destroyed.

Support to view records: Former residents may be prevented from gaining access to their records without agreeing to support services from organisations and local authorities concerned about the possible effects that reading file contents may have on former residents.

Information within records: Once former residents have gained access to their records, they're often disappointed or distressed by what isn't in their records or by what they learn for the first time in their lives.

Record quality: Former residents described their difficulty in reading photocopied records and in reading incomplete information that had pages missing or information blocked from view.

One critical lesson we learned is how the search for records and records content affect the lives of children as adults in later years. Through the experiences of former residents with records, it is possible to see what must be done to make the future experiences of children in state care, who seek information about their childhood experiences, less traumatic. It is also possible to see what issues need to be addressed to meet the current needs of former residents trying to locate and access records. From a broader perspective, society benefits when we are able to gain insights into past practices through personal records associated with children's residential services.

Chapter 3: Generating records for children's residential establishments - the legal framework 1933-1995

Introduction

Fundamental questions arose during our research into records. What did the law say about the generation and maintenance of records within the complex environment of children's residential services from 1950 to 1995? This chapter outlines the general laws, rules and regulations for the legal framework that provided for records generation within children's residential establishments from 1950 to 1995.

Records linked to children's residential services were, and continue to be, produced by organisations that included children's residential establishments, local authorities, voluntary organisations, religious organisations, professional bodies, the children's hearing system, justice, education and health care systems, inspection agencies and central government. In some cases, laws specified which records had to be generated within children's residential services while other records came into existence through localised policies and practice. It's not possible within the scope of this chapter to review all of these.

It is possible, however, to identify specific regulations for generating records within children's residential establishments from 1950 to 1995, which are highlighted in the following summary. (While evidence suggests that many establishments adopted individualised record-keeping systems as well, those approaches are not detailed in this chapter). The summary doesn't cover all the records associated with children's residential services that may have been generated. It does, however, offer an insight into the types of records specific establishments needed to create to comply with the law 15.

Generating records in children's residential establishments: 1933-1968

This section summarises key legal references to records for approved schools, children's homes, homes for children with 'mental disorders' and remand homes.

Approved schools

In 1933, the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Care and Training Regulations 193316 required the headmaster or headmistress to keep records "as may be required". Paragraph 23 required:

  • a general record of all admissions, licences and discharges;
  • individual records of all children in the care of the managers;
  • a log book recording any written report on the school communicated to the managers, visits of any managers, and all events connected with the school that "deserve to be recorded";
  • a punishment book 17; and
  • a separate register of children attending the school-room for instruction.

Also under the 1933 regulations, children were allowed to receive letters (and visits) from their parent or guardians. Any letters should have been placed on children's files 18.

The Approved Schools (Scotland) Rules 196119 confirmed these requirements, with the added requirement to keep "an adequate record of the progress of each individual pupil" and a record of every time a pupil absconded from the school 20. Other records required under these rules related to after-care services, although it is notable that this requirement was omitted under the Approved Schools (Scotland) Amendment Rules 1963 21.

The 1961 rules ensured that the records were available to the management at all times, with the log book put before them at each meeting and the chairman certifying that he or she had read the items recorded since the last meeting 22. The managers were responsible for making certain that all necessary records were generated and maintained to ensure proper reporting to the Secretary of State:

"The Managers shall manage the school in the interests of the welfare, development and rehabilitation of the pupils and for this purpose they shall take into consideration any report which may be communicated to them by or on behalf of the Secretary of State 23."

These rules also required the managers and any committee they appointed to keep minutes of their proceedings and to make these available to an inspector 24. Children also retained the right to receive letters with the added stipulation that they should be actively "…encouraged to write to their parents at least once a week" 25. Every letter to or from the child could be read by a staff member deputed by the Headmaster or Headmistress, and "reasonably" withheld if appropriate (although the facts and circumstances of any letter withheld was to be noted in the log book, and the letter preserved for at least a year) 26. Any letter to one of the managers, or to the Secretary of State or any of his officers or departments, could not be withheld 27. These letters should have been placed within children's and organisational records.

Children's homes

The Voluntary Homes (Return of Particulars) (Scotland) Regulations 1952 28 required that the Secretary of State should receive certain details relating to a 'voluntary home', which term included children's homes . These details included:

  • the home's name and address;
  • the name of the person in charge;
  • the number of boys and girls in the home according to age;
  • the number of boys and girls in the home who were receiving education, training or employment in the home and outside it;
  • the name of any government department or departments, other than the Scottish Home Department, that inspected the home; and
  • the date of the last inspection by each such government department 29.

The Administration of Children's Homes (Scotland) Regulations 195930 contained provisions on generating records in local authority and voluntary children's homes 31. Schedule 2 required the following records to be kept:

"1. A register in which shall be entered the date of admission and the date of discharge of every child accommodated in the home.

"2. A log book in which shall be recorded every event of importance connected with the home, including visits and inspections, every punishment administered to a child in the home, and every fire drill or practice, a note of the fire precautions recommended to the administering authority…and of the extent to which these recommendations have been implemented.

"3. Records of food provided for the children accommodated in the home in sufficient detail to enable any person inspecting the records to judge whether the dietary is satisfactory.

"4. A personal history of each child in the home. This shall include his medical history; a note of the circumstances in which he was admitted to the home; and in the case of a child in the care of a local authority of the circumstances which made it impracticable or undesirable to board him out; a record of the progress made during his stay in the home (in which it shall be noted…visits received from parents, relatives or friends…and any emotional or other difficulties experienced by the child); and a note of his destination when discharged from the home."

The person in charge of the home was responsible for compiling the records, which were to be open to inspection by anyone visiting the home under the powers granted to the Secretary of State or the requirements placed on the administering authority 32. Similarly, the person in charge of the home was required to maintain the medical record of each child accommodated in the home, making such records available at all times to the medical officer and to any person authorised by the Secretary of State or the administering authority to inspect them 33.

Homes for children with 'mental disorders'

The Secretary of State had the power to make regulations under section 40 of the National Assistance Act 1948 about the conduct of residential homes for persons suffering from what was called "mental disorder". This power included making regulations about what records had to be kept. The Secretary of State could also require notices to be given about persons received in such homes 34. Additional powers of inspection under section 39 included the power to inspect any records and to interview any person resident in the home in private 35.

Remand homes

Under the Remand Home (Scotland) Rules 194636 the superintendent was required to keep a register of admissions and discharges, and a log book in which "every event of importance connected with the remand home" was to be entered 37. The log book had to contain details of all visits, dates of inspection and all punishments. This latter obligation was reinforced by the requirement to immediately record all punishments in the log book and send, every quarter to the Secretary of State a return, or record, of corporal punishment administered. This 'return' had to be sent in the form he or she required 38. In general the books - the log book and register of admissions and discharges - were to be open to inspection by or on behalf of the council or by an inspector and inspected at regular intervals not exceeding three months 39.

Generating records in children's residential establishments: 1969 - 1995

The Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 made provision for children's residential establishments throughout Scotland. The Social Work (Residential Establishments - Child Care) (Scotland) Regulations 198740 ('the 1987 Regulations') were introduced to revoke the 1959 Regulations and 1961 Rules. They addressed general residential care for children for whom local authorities and voluntary organisations were responsible under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. The 1987 Regulations applied 41 to any residential establishment providing residential accommodation for children which was either controlled or managed by a local authority, one required to be registered under section 61 of the 1968 Act 42, or a school voluntarily registered in accordance with section 61A of the 1968 Act 43. It was considered to be the duty of the managers 44 of any such establishment to provide for "the care, development and control of each child resident there as shall be conducive to the best interests of the child" 45.

A requirement was placed on the managers under the regulations to prepare a "statement of functions and objectives" for that establishment 46, including details specified in Schedule 1 stipulating:

"6. Arrangements for record keeping in accordance with regulation 14, including:

(a) procedures for the selection of children to be admitted to the establishment;
(b) details of admissions and discharges from the establishment;
(c) procedures for access to records for staff, children and parents; and
(d) records regarding any involvement of children and parents in relation to decisions taken about the child's welfare while resident in the establishment."

The basic provisions of the 1987 Regulations required managers (in consultation with the person in charge) to ensure that all necessary records, including health particulars, were properly maintained for each child resident in an establishment 47. Managers also had a duty (again in consultation with the relevant person in charge) to ensure that a "log book of day to day events of importance or an official nature" was kept and maintained; this would include "details of disciplinary measures imposed" 48.

Secure accommodation

After amendments to the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 by the Health and Social Services and Social Security Adjudications Act 1983 49, specific regulations were made about the provision and use of secure accommodation in Scotland. The Secure Accommodation (Scotland) Regulations 198350 placed a duty on the person in charge to keep a record of the child's placement, including details of what supervision was required and any reviews of the placement by virtue of the 1968 Act 51. Such records were to be open at all times to inspection by the Secretary of State who could request copies 52. The Secure Accommodation (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 198853 required that the newly defined managers of such establishments should consult with the person in charge about the need to keep records 54.

More legal provisions were needed to govern secure accommodation for children detained, under court order, in residential care under section 413 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 197555. In response, The Residential Care Order (Secure Accommodation) (Scotland) Regulations 198856 were introduced. These regulations provided for record-keeping, requiring that the person in charge maintain a record of the child's placement in secure accommodation including:

  • details of any reviews undertaken in accordance with the Regulations;
  • the date and time of the child's placement, release or both of these; and
  • the child's full name, sex and date of birth 57.

These records were to be available for inspection by the Secretary of State who could require that copies of them be sent to him 58.

Generating records: The Children (Scotland) Act 1995

The legal provision for generating records in children's residential establishments changed with the Children (Scotland) 1995 Act. With this Act, it is possible to see that certain legislative improvements to generating records within children's residential services were made. The regulations and guidance for the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, applicable today, contain specific provisions on records for children's residential establishments, including secure accommodation.

For example, managers must consult with the person in charge and prepare a statement of functions and objectives for the establishment. 59 The person in charge must report to the managers within 12-month intervals on how the statement is being implemented and its progress. Managers must also visit the establishments within six-month intervals and prepare a comprehensive report on the statement's implementation. The Act adds:

"Managers may, in consultation with the person in charge, make appropriate amendments to the statement. Copies of the statement (or amended versions) should be made available to children and parents. The managers should also make the statement available, on request, to any local authority or children's hearing considering placing a child in such an establishment.

"The statement should provide the establishment with an overall sense of direction. It should describe what the home sets out to do for children; the types of service which it seeks to provide directly or in association with other agencies; the outcomes it seeks to achieve and the timescales. The statement might be organised around the eight principles set out in the report "Another Kind of Home" ( HMSO, 1992) 160"

Under the regulations and guidance for the Children (Scotland) 1995 Act, the statement of functions and objectives (see Appendix F) should detail the arrangements for children's residential establishments 61. Additional records, however, must be generated within children's residential establishments. The establishment, for example "...should produce a statement of the rights and responsibilities of children residing in their establishments..." with children and their parents being given such a statement 62:

"Each establishment must have a formal complaints procedure which is part of the responsible agency's procedures. The procedure should be easily understood and readily accessible to the children and staff. This procedure should include provision for children to gain access, by such means as private use of a telephone, to a person independent of the establishment, for instance a complaints officer. Complaints should be followed up promptly and thoroughly. The child should be informed, usually in writing, of the outcome. A record should be maintained of the complaint, follow-up and outcome. Staff should receive training to familiarise them with procedures. It is also helpful to review the number and characteristics of complaints on an annual basis to identify any wider implications for practice and management in the establishment 63."

There are also detailed provisions for personal records (see Appendix G) for children residing within children's residential establishments. Under the regulations and guidance, children's records should be comprehensive and up-to-date, with cross-references to other records with more detailed information. Records should be checked regularly by the person in charge and be available to the social worker for the responsible local authority 64.

Introduced under the Children (Scotland) 1995 Act, the Arrangements to Look After Children (Scotland) Regulations 1996 were intended to work alongside the Residential Establishments - Child Care (Scotland) Regulations 1996 (which superseded the Social Work (Residential Establishments - Child Care) (Scotland) Regulations 1987). These additional regulations required local authorities to make a care plan "to address the immediate and longer-term needs of the child with a view to safeguarding and promoting his welfare 65" immediately when the child became looked-after by a local authority. Local authorities were obliged to conduct stringent reviews of the child's placement and the care plan at frequent intervals 66 and to make a record of such review information 67.

The Residential Establishments - Child Care (Scotland) Regulations 199668 were introduced to provide for children's placements in residential establishments under the Children (Scotland) 1995 Act 69. Again, managers were required to prepare a statement of functions and objectives setting out their responsibilities 70, subjecting them to periods of review to ensure they implemented their obligations properly 71. Minimum requirements (again almost identical to those contained in the 1987 Regulations) were specified about the need to keep log books and personal records 72.

Keeping proper records was emphasised by the provision requiring local authorities to establish written case records for children looked after by their authority. These records needed to include:

  • the care plan;
  • any report in their possession concerning the child's welfare;
  • review documents; and
  • details of any arrangements whereby another person acted for the placing local authority 73.

Personal records had to retained until the 75th birthday of the person it related to or, if the child died before reaching the age of 18, for 25 years from the date of death 74. The local authority was required to ensure the safe-keeping of such case records and keep them confidential, subject only to any legal provision or court order 75.

New regulations were also introduced to govern secure accommodation in residential accommodation, replacing the previous sets of secure accommodation regulations 76. The Secure Accommodation (Scotland) Regulations 199677 applied to the use of secure accommodation for any child looked after by a local authority or for whom the local authority was responsible under criminal procedure legislation. These regulations consolidated the main provisions of the previous legislation. The requirement to keep a record of the child's placement in such accommodation was maintained, including obligations to hold details of the child and any reviews undertaken of the placement by virtue of section 73 of the 1995 Act 78.

Conclusion

The regulatory framework for children's residential services shows how children's residential establishments needed to generate more records in later years. At the same time, this regulatory framework does not take account of all the records generated in association with children's residential services. From 1950 to 1995, the law specified what records needed to be generated within approved schools, children's homes, residential placements for children with 'mental disorders' and remand homes, for example. The law outlined managers' and the Secretary of State's duties and powers relating to records, imposing an oversight responsibility for individual children's welfare and children's residential establishments facilitated through records.

As an illustration, the 1933 law required managers for approved schools to ensure proper record keeping, which included 'punishment books', and to review the records, possibly to monitor children's safety and quality of service provision. The 1961 rules included additional requirements such as keeping records of children's progress and absconding. Approved school managers, who had an obligation to manage '...the school in the interests of the welfare, development and rehabilitation of the pupils', were also required to read the log book, keep meeting minutes, report to the Secretary of State and make records available to inspectors. The 1952 and 1959 regulations for children's homes show the association between records and the duties of managers, inspectors and the Secretary of State, who was to receive 'punishment returns'.

The 1987 regulations 79 continued to place duties on managers for proper record generation and required managers to prepare a statement of functions and objectives for their establishment 80. In particular, managers had responsibility for ensuring children's records, including 'health particulars', were kept along with a log book registering important events, such as 'discipline' administered. The language in the 1987 regulations changed to 'discipline' from 'punishment' used in earlier legislation, which coincided with the banning of corporal punishment in schools. In the 1980s, new regulations for secure accommodation also demanded records for children placed there and access to those records by inspectors. The Secretary of State could request individual records for children placed in secure accommodation.

Then, the Children's (Scotland) Act 1995 and other regulations, including those for secure accommodation, followed. The legal provisions for records associated with children's residential establishments changed once again and became more expansive, suggesting a growing reliance on records as a method for monitoring and improving services to children. Managers of children's residential establishments continued to have responsibility for records, including detailed statements of function and objectives. The law introduced statements on 'children's rights and responsibilities' to be given to children along with information about complaints procedures. The requirement to generate personal records for children in children's residential establishments continued although the requirements for what those records must contain developed further under the 1995 Act.

Chapter 4: An overview of records law and key initiatives after 1995

Introduction

This chapter provides an overview of general records legislation. It also highlights significant records developments in recent years and legal issues arising that remain today.

Between 1950 and 1995, thousands of records specific to children's residential services were generated. While today the importance of preserving such records, and making them accessible, is recognised, the law has not always provided for records to be preserved and made accessible. As a consequence, it was extremely difficult for us, former residents and others to identify and locate significant historical records - despite how critical it is, from an individual and society's perspective, to protect such records. The Scottish National Archives Policy (1999) 81 states that:

"…a civilised society, concerned to uphold the rights of the citizen, to encourage efficient administration and to ensure that its history is accessible to all, should make provision for its archives to be preserved and made available for consultation."

These provisions for records, however, must be considered within their broader context of public records and other records-related legislation. Several key initiatives have been associated with the public records legislation as some legal issues associated with records are outstanding, such as issues related to preservation and access. These issues may have particular implications for records associated with children's residential services.

Records legislation: overview

The Public Records (Scotland) Act 1937 ('the 1937 Act') was the primary legislation in place during the period of our review (see specialist legislation above) for ensuring preservation and access to public records. It remains as the main legislation governing the work of the National Archives of Scotland ( NAS), along with the Public Registers and Records (Scotland) Act 1948, and some parts of the Public Records Act 1958, as amended by the Public Records Act 1967 82. The 1937 Act, which still applies to this day in amended form, was introduced with the intention of making "better provision for the preservation, care and custody of the Public Records of Scotland" 83, but was chiefly concerned with providing for the transfer of records of central and local Scottish courts to the Keeper 84 of the Records of Scotland.

The Act is notable in that, along with government departments, agencies, non-departmental public bodies, and statutory bodies 85, it allowed local authorities to transfer their records to the Keeper 86 but did not require them to do so. The 1937 Act also outlined the Keeper's powers over and duties to records, permitting him or her to take whatever steps considered necessary for cleaning, preserving, repairing and arranging of any records sent to the Keeper under the Act 87. The Keeper also had the power to issue extracts or certified copies of any records sent to him under the Act 88. And the Keeper could dispose of records he or she decided had no long-term value, although this provision applied mainly to court records.

Finally, the 1937 Act was significant in creating the Scottish Records Advisory Council, which was eligible to "submit proposals or make representations to the Secretary of State, the Lord Justice General, or the Lord President on questions relating to the public records of Scotland", and in particular, to "the custody, preservation, indexing, and cataloguing of those records, and to facilities for access to and examination of them by members of the public" 89.

The 1937 Act was, and remains, the main primary legislation governing the creation and maintenance of public records, although other developments had an impact on the requirement to keep records. The Public Registers and Records (Scotland) Act 1948, for example, recognised the need for creating two positions: a Keeper of the General Register of Sasines and a Keeper of the Records of Scotland. In England and Wales, the Public Records Act 1958 departs from the 1937 Act in placing a duty on every person who is responsible for public records to make arrangements to select the records which ought to be permanently preserved.

Since 1962, some aspects of the 1958 Act have been applied in Scotland by agreement between the UK and Scottish Keepers. With this agreement, UK public bodies operating wholly or mainly in Scotland could transfer their records to the National Archives of Scotland rather than to the National Archives (London) 90. In 1962, the Scottish Office adopted the arrangements for access to government records set out in the 1958 Act and also adopted similar arrangements for selecting, transferring and preserving government records. Similarly, although the Public Records Act 1967 did not apply to Scotland, its provision reducing the standard closure period for UK government records from 50 years to 30 years (the "30-year rule") was adopted.

Previous regulations were introduced under the 1937 Act's section 12 to govern the rules for disposing of records other than court records 91, but the provisions were consolidated under The Disposal of Records (Scotland) Regulations 199292. These provisions provided that the Keeper could authorise the destruction of any such records (other than a record of an older date than the year 1707) where they had no sufficient value to justify their preservation 93. The provisions also allowed the Keeper to dispose of any records that should be held by any person, body or institution other than the Keeper by transferring them to that person, body or institution 94. Before the disposal of any records, however, the Keeper was required to obtain the consent of the Scottish Records Advisory Council and, in relation to particular records, certain other persons or bodies. For example, when local authority records in the possession of the Keeper were authorised for destruction, the local authority was required to give consent 95. These regulations still apply today. They've been amended by the Disposal of Records (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 200396, which required the consent of Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body for destruction of Scottish Administration and Scottish Parliament records.

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, put fully into force on 1 January 2005, introduced a statutory right of access to all types of recorded information of any age held by Scottish public authorities, subject to certain conditions and exemptions. It was designed to be promoted and enforced by a fully independent Scottish Information Commissioner. In amendments to the Public Records (Scotland) Act 1937, the 2002 Act allowed for the matters on which the Scottish Records Advisory Council could advise Scottish Ministers to include those relating to the application of that Act to information contained in records held by the Keeper 97.

The Human Rights Act 1998 and the Data Protection Act 1998 exist as other key legislation relating to records. The Human Rights Act 1998, for example, effectively incorporates the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, with implications for what records are created, maintained and accessed.

The Data Protection Act 1998 intends to ensure the fair and lawful processing of the personal data of living individuals, obliging organisations to provide a reasonable degree of confidentiality for information about people, and to respect their privacy. Based on eight fundamental right-based principles, the Act requires that:

  • data is obtained fairly and lawfully;
  • the "data subject" is informed about who the "data controller" is (that is, the institution);
  • the purpose or purposes for which the data held will be used;
  • who will receive the data held will be disclosed;
  • personal data is kept accurate and up to date;
  • personal data is not kept for longer than necessary.

The Act also gives significant rights to individuals about personal data held about them by institutions, including the right to request access to data and to be supplied with a copy of all personal data held. The Act came into force by degrees and initially related only to personal data held on computer systems, but now also applies to personal data held in paper-based files.

Records legislation: local authority records

In addition to the chief provisions governing public records in the 1937 Act, several local government acts included requirements affecting records. The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 introduced a two-tier system of local government comprising nine regional authorities, 53 district councils and three unitary island councils. This took effect in 1974 and survived until 1995. The Act included several sections with a bearing on recording and publishing information and on rights of access to records. However Section 200, which governed the transfer of records between the old and new authorities and required the new authorities to make "proper arrangements" for their records, was repealed by the Environment Act 199598.

Later, the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 focused largely on establishing the rights of access to information held by local authorities 99. The Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994 replaced the two-tier system of Scottish local government with 32 unitary authorities, taking effect in 1995. This Act provided for the transfer of property, including records, between the old and new authorities 100. It also obliged local authorities to make "proper arrangements" for the "preservation and management" of any records that had been transferred to them under the Act, created or acquired by them in the exercise of their functions, or otherwise placed in their custody after consulting the Keeper of the Records of Scotland 101. The Act allowed for a local authority to dispose of any records it didn't consider "worthy of preservation" 102. Furthermore, local authorities could determine what was appropriate for enabling proper use of their records and could make provision for enabling people to inspect their records and to make or obtain copies 103.

Historical records and children's residential establishments: significant developments

It is evident that there are significant weaknesses in Scotland's archival legislation as the Public Records Act 1937 is limited in its scope and outdated. Other countries, such as New Zealand, updated their archival legislation to reflect "...changes in technology, legislation and record-keeping practices that have occurred in the past 47 years". 104 Their legislation objectives are to:

  • promote accountability between the Crown, the public, and Government agencies;
  • enhance public confidence in the integrity of public records;
  • enhance and promote...historical and cultural heritage; and
  • encourage partnership and goodwill envisaged by the Treaty of Waitangi in relation to public records.

In England, there are existing proposals to change current legislative provisions for records management and archives, partially in recognition of the vast numbers of people who have developed an interest in historical records. Scotland's own records legislation, as evidenced above, does not adequately ensure the preservation and accessibility of records although within the last 10 years there have been significant initiatives to address the apparent weaknesses in Scotland's archival legislation. Several of these are described below.

Archival mapping project (1999)

In 1999, the National Archives of Scotland managed a Scottish archive services mapping project that followed earlier pilot projects in England and Wales. The Scottish project was designed to allow for strategic approaches to funding initiatives for public and private sector archive services. During 1998, the project sent questionnaires to local authorities, health boards, universities, national institutions and specialist repositories 105. The results showed "…a wholly unacceptable level of development…the picture of inadequate staffing, seriously unsatisfactory buildings, and administrative neglect is not one of which the country can be proud" suggesting, as well, that the overall picture of archives in Scotland at that time was "grim". The project concluded that there was significant need for archival storage and accommodation:

"The emergence of purpose-built local archive repositories as separate physical entities in Scotland's major cities would be a major advance, bringing automatic recognition of the value of archives as an essential component of our heritage and society.

"If the complexities of the funding gap both outside and within parent organisations could be bridged to begin this absolutely fundamental process, there is a better likelihood of development in all other aspects of archives provision; especially if neighbouring archive offices existing in close proximity can find ways of adopting a collaborative approach to, for example, conservation needs or development of automated cross-institutional finding aids."

The mapping project report also identified the need for more staffing, with the mapping project report stating that a Scottish Records Archives Council could be the "…natural vehicle to achieve the provision of proper resources for archives throughout the country":

"[Scotland's archivists'] collective achievements, especially over the last two decades in the face of huge difficulties, should not be underestimated. Without their services the nation would have lost great chunks of its collective memory. How valuable is that memory to the people of Scotland? It is nothing less than the written record of the Scottish identity upon which our very way of life is based. We already have a 'Scottish National Archives Policy'. A Scottish Archives Act may well translate its nine broad principles into law in the next millennium. Our archives must also then find the resources they so richly deserve."

Public Records Strategy (2003-2004)

The Scottish Executive recognised that Scottish public records legislation, such as the Public Records (Scotland) Act 1937, needed to be reviewed and established a Public Records Strategy 106. This awareness followed the introduction of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Data Protection Act 1998. New technological developments, such as electronic and digital records, also highlighted the importance this Strategy had.

"The purpose of this project is to examine existing legislation, guidance, standards and practices relating to Scottish public records and archives, together with the roles and functions of the key stakeholders in relation to those records, and to consider whether these need to be amended or updated to, for example:

  • "take account of recent legislation (such as the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Data Protection Act 1998);
  • "take account of developments in technology (such as electronic records), developments in records management practices, devolution, and any other relevant issues;
  • "improve the quality and consistency of records management and archive arrangements across the Scottish public sector; and
  • "promote the use of archives and improve their accessibility."

While the Strategy "…would cover private archives held by Scottish public authorities, it will not be designed to apply to the archives of private organisations or individuals, although they may choose to adopt elements of it. Representatives of private archives will be included in the consultation process for their general interest and expertise in records and archives." The Strategy's stated overall goal was "…to develop measures for managing Scottish public records in the 21st century, ensuring that the appropriate records are kept, maintained, preserved and accessible to the public". The Strategy intended to include:

  • "a clear description of the purposes and benefits of maintaining properly managed public records and archives;
  • "outline proposals for a Scottish Public Records Bill, if considered appropriate;
  • "outline proposals for guidance and standards designed to improve the quality and consistency of records management and archive arrangements across the Scottish public sector;
  • "consideration of the need for arrangements to enforce records management requirements and standards;
  • "a list of the Scottish public authorities which should be subject to the Strategy;
  • "proposals for the future roles/functions of existing public records stakeholders (including the Keeper, NAS, SRAC and Scottish public authorities) and of any proposed new stakeholders;
  • "a description of the "public records" which should be covered by the Strategy and, if considered appropriate, proposals for a statutory definition;
  • "proposals for the management of non-paper records, particularly records kept in electronic form;
  • "proposals to promote and improve accessibility of archives;
  • "consideration of the scope for increased cross-sectoral working, for example between archives and museums, galleries & libraries;
  • "a suggested timetable for implementation of the Strategy; and
  • "any other issues which are relevant to the purpose of the Strategy."

The ensuing consultation process involved a range of interested groups, such various Scottish public authorities, archivists, records managers and users of records, with an 'Issues for Discussion' paper preceding seven workshops. These workshops addressed many key themes considered important, including:

  • what public records are and why we keep them;
  • which Scottish public authorities should be covered by any future legislation;
  • what aspects of record keeping should be legislated for;
  • what standards and guidance might be required;
  • how requirements could be enforced and by whom; and
  • the future of relevant institutions such as the National Archives of Scotland and the Scottish Records Advisory Council (MacQueen 2005).

While the workshops resulted in considerable feedback, there was no resulting consultation document as proposed.

Code of Practice on Records Management (2003)

The Code of Practice on Records Management (2003) is also known as the Section 61 Code, in reference to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Prepared in consultation with the Scottish Information Commissioner and the Keeper of the Records in Scotland, it provides guidance to all public authorities for practice in keeping, managing and disposing of records. The code also provides instructions about records transfer to the National Archives of Scotland and other public archives. It's based on the premise that freedom of information legislation needs to be compatible with the creation of reliable records, being able to locate records and proper archival and disposal arrangements.

The code states that all public authorities must manage their records "effectively", led by senior managers and that such an approach may require a change in culture. The Scottish Information Commissioner is responsible for promoting "observance with the Code", which also states that if authorities fail to observe the Code "…they may be failing in their duty under the Act".

Historical records and children's residential services: Current legal issues

The Public Records Strategy consultation process highlighted that public and private sector archive services need to be developed and properly funded to ensure that "history is accessible to all". Survivors of historical child abuse have identified that establishing the historical record of their experiences is important to them. The identification of significant records needs to be coordinated with the preservation and access to records generated in association with those experiences. As indicated in an earlier chapter, however, the preservation of records relating to children's residential services is important to former residents, and others, for many reasons.

Current legal issues make preserving children's residential services' records, and their accessibility, extremely challenging. The following section examines key issues that need to be addressed to:

  • protect former residents' and the public's legal entitlement to records;
  • preserve records for research; and
  • make certain that future inquiries into what happened in children's residential establishments can proceed.

Definitional challenges: "Public" and "Private"

A complication arising when searching for records relating to children's residential services is that The Public Records (Scotland) Act 1937 doesn't define "public records". It can be difficult to understand the distinction between public and private records, for example, which has serious implications for people responsible for preserving records and for people entitled to access these records.

Organisations, local authorities and central government provided children's residential services between 1950 and 1995. Assessing who owns records can be challenging, particularly in circumstances where private enterprises provided public statutory services on a contractual basis. These factors have implications for the preservation and accessibility of records without which it is difficult, if not impossible, to understand what happened in children's residential establishments. Once public records are defined, however, complications remain:

"[The Public Records (Scotland) Act 1937] applies only to the Courts and to government departments, boards of trustees, or other bodies or persons holding records which belong to Her Majesty and related exclusively or mainly to Scotland. So, although the courts, the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Executive and its agencies, and the NHS are covered, many other public bodies are not: for example, local authorities, NHS trusts, and universities" (MacQueen 2005).

The Scottish Records Advisory Council has proposed that "public records" are records created or received by a public body. Voluntary and religious organisations that provided residential services to children, however, are not covered under the Public Records (Scotland) Act 1937 and may not be covered under any reformed legislation unless there is clarification about how to define those records the organisations generated when providing children's residential services.

In October 2007, the Scottish Information Commissioner called on the Scottish Executive to protect the freedom of information rights of individuals. He claimed that those rights are being lost when public services are managed by private or charitable bodies 107. It is important, therefore, to clarify the distinction between "public" and "private" records for children's residential services to ensure that all significant records associated with children's residential services are preserved and made accessible.

Reforming archive legislation

There is an urgent need to reform the current Public Records Act 1937 in Scotland. In doing so, this initiative would complement the current Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, which makes records accessible. Despite recent improvements that this Act makes, the legal provision for maintaining and preserving public records in Scotland is still viewed by many as inconsistent and incomplete 108, operating through outmoded legal provisions such as those in the UK Public Records Acts of 1958 and 1967.

As far back as 1974 it was recognised that "…modern practice has largely outstripped the Public Records (Scotland) Act 1937 and new legislation will soon be required to provide a more satisfactory basis for the preservation of records in Scotland" (Imrie 1974). Indeed, the 1937 Act is viewed as basic legislation limited in its scope. The Freedom of Information Act 2002, however, recognises the need for, and depends on, solid legislative authority for archives housing any information relating to organisations responsible for public services. There are significant limitations to the current Public Records (Scotland) Act 1937. It doesn't define "public records". It's limited in its application to public bodies. It imposes no obligation on public bodies to manage their current records properly (only courts are required to transmit their records to the Keeper). And it provides little definition of the powers and functions of the Keeper (MacQueen 2005).

Furthermore, although local authorities are required to make proper arrangements for preserving and managing their records in separate legislation 109, such a requirement is undefined and lacks any sanctions to enforce it. Indeed, this provision was late in coming 110, and records were therefore kept and handed over to the Keeper almost entirely on a voluntary and customary basis: the inadequacy of this system has also been heavily criticised by archivists' groups 111.

Inadequate public records legislation means that local authorities don't take consistent approaches to their archives, with some local authorities not appointing records managers and archivists to ensure proper preservation of their records. While many local authorities have archives, archivists have commented on the lack of funding, staff and storage facilities and the lack of value placed upon their work. Archivists, and others participating in the Public Records Strategy, have stressed that there is an urgent need for a strong regulatory framework for archival work relating to records. Current weaknesses in public records legislation remain until new archive legislation is passed.

A response to the Public Records Strategy notes that there is consensus that "...all public authorities should be subject to a statutory obligation to carry out 'effective and efficient records management'" (MacQueen, 2005). According to the Strategy, primary legislation should impose on Scottish public authorities general statutory requirements to:

  • create, manage, store, preserve and properly dispose of their records;
  • keep track of their records, including any transmission, lending and destruction;
  • prepare and publish indices, lists, guides, calendars and summaries of their records;
  • review their records and provide for archiving records that merit permanent preservation;
  • provide public access to their archives; and
  • consult the appropriate body or office-holder before destroying any records.

MacQueen, 2005 notes that '[t]hese general statutory requirements should be complemented by sector-specific codes of practice or guidance setting out in detail how these requirements should be met. Such codes or guidance should be enforceable in the same way as the over-arching legislation''. Clearly, there is a need to introduce new public records legislation to ensure the preservation and accessibility of records and to develop a specific approach to children's residential services records.

Records management

Statutory authority is needed to guide the proper management of records, such as their identification, keeping and destruction. Records management has implications for records associated with children's residential establishments, in deciding what is preserved, what is destroyed and what is made accessible.

"Any freedom of information legislation is only as good as the quality of the records to which it provides a right of access. Such rights are of limited use if reliable records are not created in the first place, if they cannot be found when needed, or if the arrangements for their eventual archiving or destruction are inadequate" (Code of Practice on Records Management , 2003).

Significantly, there are no legal obligations on various Scottish public authorities (and private organisations holding records generated when providing publicly funded services) to manage their records or to maintain archives (MacQueen 2005). Because there is "incomplete and inconsistent legal provision for Scottish public records and archives"(ibid:8), this state of affairs has an impact on children's residential services' records. This inconsistency also extends to private archives that hold similar types of records.

While existing public records legislation is inadequate, the Code of Practice on Records Management (2003) attempts to fill the gap by providing guidance to Scottish public authorities on managing how records are kept and destroyed (see Appendix H). This code arose from requirements in the Freedom of Information (Scotland) 2002 Act. These stated that Scottish Ministers should publish a code that provides: "...guidance to Scottish public authorities as to the practice which it would...be desirable for them to follow in connection with the keeping management and destruction" (Code of Practice on Records Management, 2003) of their records. The word 'desirable' means that there is no statutory requirement for public authorities (or private organisations) to employ record management practices consistent with the Code.

Deficiencies in the current records legislation have serious consequences for significant children's residential services records and all such records for child care services. Important records that aren't subject to strict records management procedures may be destroyed, lost or damaged, with the result that access to those records is denied to many people with rights to access under current legislation. There is a need, therefore, to ensure that new archive legislation includes proper records management to protect legal entitlements and to make certain those entitlements are realised.

Access to records

Freedom of information and data protection laws grant access to records. But many barriers remain to people accessing records they are legally entitled to view.

"What should members of the public be entitled to expect from [public] archives, in terms of not only freedom of information, but also of the other uses - historical, cultural, genealogical - to which the public may wish to put the material? Access has to be considered in all its aspects: for example, physical location and condition (especially in relation to disability discrimination laws), cataloguing and indexing, and online facilities. There is also the danger of providing useless access, such as putting information on a website without a search facility or facilities for blind users" (MacQueen, 2005).

While archives are viewed as depositories of records, they are "...also disseminators, of material of historical, genealogical, social and political interest at many different levels" (MacQueen, 2005). Archives cannot exist as disseminators of material, however, unless access is subject to standards and regulation that address the current barriers to access that many people encounter today.

Our review identified barriers making it difficult for former residents and others to access records held by local authorities, organisations and central government. The Scottish Government has its own Code of Practice on Access to Scottish Executive Information (1999) 112 and more precise information about how former residents, and others, may access specific information held on residential schools and children's homes. But former residents still reported difficulties in gaining access to information held by central government. The Scottish Information Commissioner Report (2005) identified that the Scottish Executive Education Department (' SEED') had formalised its arrangements for giving access to 'List D' schools (name given to Approved Schools in the early 70s) and children's homes. However it indicated that it would be helpful if SEED provided a list full list of records found in their searches, including their reference, title and location. By identifying that SEED's access information on the web was difficult to locate, the SIC recommended making other forms available to individuals with no computer access or computer skills.

Our review found that several organisations with private archives located within their organisations had access policies in place. We learned, however, that there are huge variations in access policies, with some local authorities and organisations having no proper access policy in place. The universities' archives and the National Archives of Scotland have access policies, which apply to all records held in their archives. Former residents reported that they found inconsistencies in policies confusing which, in turn, limited their ability to gain access to records they're legally entitled to view.

There is evidence, as well, of existing records that may not be accessible because they aren't being managed properly or they haven't been archived. Local authorities, in particular, have records in a myriad of locations, many of which have not been archived. We learned that local authorities, for example, have used private storage companies at significant cost to store records and there are no schedules of records with the effect that local authorities may not know what is there, making some records inaccessible.

There is evidence that some current access to records approaches, and policies, are creating barriers for people wishing to exercise their legal entitlement to view public records. As a result, we identified an immediate need for standard model access-to-records policies that recognise special needs, such as advocacy and counselling services, associated with accessing children's residential services records.

Co-ordinating the legislation: Public Records Act 1937, Freedom of Information Act 2002, Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Data Protection Act (1998) depend on strong archival legislation to ensure that records are properly managed and preserved so records can be made accessible. In addition, there is an obvious overlap between the operation of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. At times, for example, there can be tension between the rights of an individual under the Data Protection Act and the duties of a public authority to disclose information under the Freedom of Information Act. There is a need to coordinate this legislation with the Human Rights Act 1998 and public records legislation to ensure that former residents, and the public, are not denied access to records they're legally entitled to view.

There were indications in Australia that people who had lived as children in institutions were having difficulty gaining full access to records under that country's freedom of information legislation:

"Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation has been passed in all Australian jurisdictions. The legislation covers personal information compiled by government agencies. The Committee heard evidence that some care leavers have experienced difficulty in accessing information under FoI procedures. There were cases where information was provided only after persistent efforts to pursue records and instances where large amounts of information were withheld. Care leavers were particularly angry that the material on files, even if years old, was still withheld" (Parliament of Australia Senate Report, 2004).

The Data Protection Act 1998 in Scotland requires that personal data is kept accurate and up to date and not kept for longer than necessary 113. This Act, together with other legislation, needs to ensure that important records associated with people's experiences in children's residential establishments are preserved and its legal requirements, conversely, do not result in the destruction of significant records. Without adequate safeguards, this provision of the Act may result in the legal destruction of personal information that individuals who lived in or had some association with children's residential establishments may want to access.

Special considerations

During the parliamentary debate in December 2004, the Minister stated that he wanted "relevant files" to be identified and made public, noting that these are "exceptional circumstances" requiring the involvement of the Keeper of the Records. Special considerations must be given to children's residential establishments' records, because the places where adults lived as children, away from their families, constituted their homes. Children did not choose to live in these homes - institutions for many children - but were placed there, often under state guardianship. The state and other responsible organisations, former residents suggest, have an ongoing duty of care to them as adults, particularly those adults who were abused as children while living in residential placements. It is a duty that includes making it possible to establish historical accounts and learn about what happened in children's residential establishments through accessible records.

There is an urgent need, therefore, to recognise records for children's residential services, and child care services in general, as "exceptional". This requires new archive legislation and associated standards and guidance affecting significant children's residential services records. There is an urgent need to encourage good records management practices to protect signficant records associated with children's residential services and to see those records as associated with "exceptional circumstances".

Records for children's residential services may serve two purposes: evidence for legal purposes and memory that has personal, cultural, and social historical significance. A specific records retention schedule is needed, taking account of these purposes and with legal authority. This is necessary for guiding organisations, local authorities and central government in their records management practices.

Conclusion

In our review of public records legislation, it became apparent that the Public Records Act 1937 is the main legislation responsible for ensuring the preservation of public records, which include records for children's residential services. According to public records experts, however, this law is significantly outdated and needs reform. Notably, there is no adequate definition of 'public record' and no duty imposed on local authorities to transfer their public records to archives for preservation. There is also no legal specification about how records generated by private bodies receiving public funding must be preserved and made accessible.

The public records legislation sits alongside other law. The Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994, for example, provided for the transfer of records between the old and new authorities. While the law said local authorities should make "proper arrangements" for the "preservation and management" of their records, it did not require them to do so. Furthermore, the 1994 Act allowed local authorities to dispose of any records it did not consider "worthy of preservation", which meant that individuals within local authority departments - who may have been unskilled as records managers and archivists - were making decisions about what records were destroyed.

Current freedom of information and data protection law depends upon records existence to ensure that individuals' realise their legal entitlements to access records. There is an urgent need, therefore, to review all public records legislation to make certain that it is coordinated and facilitates access to records. Legal authority, reflected in standards and guidance, is also needed to guide the proper management of records. Inadequate legislation leads to poor records management practices which, in turn, have significant implications for records associated children's residential establishments, affecting what is preserved, destroyed and made accessible.

In recent years significant initiatives have attempted to address gaps in records legislation. These include the Archival Mapping Project (1999), the Public Records Strategy (2003-2004) and the Code of Practice on Records Management (2003) - all of which relate to record preservation and access. We found, however, that despite these important initiatives, several outstanding issues remain including the need to:

  • Reform public records legislation;
  • Clarify what happens to records held by private bodies that receive public funds;
  • Address variations in records access policies and the lack of records access policies, in some places; and
  • Coordinate public records legislation to ensure individuals' are not being denied their legal entitlement to access records.

And, within this context, special consideration needs to be given to the records of children's residential establishments - the 'homes' where adults lived as children, away from their families.

Chapter 5: Searching for information: Major changes and Scottish Government records

Introduction

The chapter begins by examining the contextual legal background directly or indirectly affecting central government, local authorities and organisations. It also highlights key aspects of the Scottish Information Commissioner report entitled 'Examination of the Scottish Executive Education Department's Procedures for the Identification and Provision of Access to Records related to Children's Homes and Residential Schools' (2005). This report is significant in that it addresses the issue of the former Scottish Executive (now Scottish Government's) records made available to our review. The chapter also describes some of the challenges accompanying these records.

Contextual legal background

Many factors affected the generation, preservation and accessibility of records at all levels of government and within organisations. While undoubtedly many poor records management practices existed, they did so within a context of inadequate statutory records regulation, standards and guidance. The previous chapter highlighted inadequacies in public records legislation, dating back to 1937, and the current issues that remain outstanding. This prevailing legal context would have seriously impacted the preservation of public records generated by central government, local governments and organisations.

Additional legislative changes, reorganisations and new policy initiatives would have had direct, and indirect, implications for central government records. Voluntary and religious organisations providing children's residential services needed to comply with legal requirements and with their own internal, and changing, organisational structures and requirements. Local authorities with responsibilities for children's residential services experienced major upheavals, such as the introduction of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 and two major local government reorganisations.

The regulatory framework within the review's report (chapter 2) illustrates major changes to children's services, for example, when the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 was introduced, bringing together probation, childcare, welfare and mental health officers in one department. These responsibilities became wider as several functions of the local health authorities were also transferred to social work departments 114. The new departments carrying out social work functions were based initially on 52 counties, cities and large burghs 115 until the local government reorganisation in the 1970s reorganised social work services on the basis of regional and islands councils 116.

Under the new 1968 Act, social work committees and sub-committees were appointed to address all functions carried out by social work departments 117. As social work departments had such extensive areas of duties and responsibilities and such wide interests, major social work committees formed sub-committees and delegated various functions 118. This new 1968 Act, which took effect in 1971, led to major changes within local authorities, therefore, which changes had significant implications for records associated with children's residential services.

The establishment of new social work departments occurred slightly before the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 established the two-tier system of local government in Scotland from 1975 to 1996 119 leading, once again, to major reorganisation and consequences for records. Years later, when the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994 abolished the two-tier system of local government and replaced it with 32 unitary authorities, records associated with children's residential services would have been affected.

Changes to local government and the law would also have impacted in records associated with central government, voluntary and religious organisations. The organisations had contractual arrangements with local authorities while central government continued to have oversight and policy responsibilities for local authorities' children's residential services. The lack of regulations, standards and guidance for records management would have presented major challenges for central government, local authorities, voluntary and religious organisations in managing their records.

Searching for information: SEED and NAS

Before our review, the former Scottish Executive Education Department (' SEED') had gathered records it considered important to the issue of historical abuse in List D schools and children's homes 120. SEED's initiative led to a list of records made publicly available and accessible to us. As we found, however, large volumes of records existed and more central government records were possibly relevant to our review than the SEED list identified. Given our staffing and time constraints, the scrutiny of these records was restricted to a select number of records among the vast numbers of potentially significant central government records available.

We began our search by identifying the most obvious places where records may be located. These included SEED and National Archives of Scotland (' NAS'), in addition to voluntary organisations, religious organisations and local authorities. Before the review began, SEED had begun a search for records relating to residential schools and children's homes, which resulted in a list of disclosed records for public access. According to SEED, these records were held in two locations: their central offices in Edinburgh and NAS. The SEED redacted (edited) records are held in its central offices while other records are located at NAS.

We examined some SEED records to find out what records might be relevant to our work. As this involved reading considerable numbers of records, time limitations and lack of staff made it impossible to consider all records on the SEED list. From those examined, however, it was possible to identify that these records contained significant information. We also learned that many other records not on SEED's list also exist within NAS, making the task of reviewing SEED records far more labour-intensive than anticipated. As some records located at NAS were closed, SEED began a process in which department officials reviewed these records at their central offices before granting us access. This process, again, made locating relevant information cumbersome and time-consuming.

Background: SEED and Scottish Information Commissioner report

This section provides the background to SEED's initiative to gather its records. This initiative was announced by the Minister of Education and Young People in the Scottish Parliament in December 2004 and was intended to make records associated with residential schools and children's homes publicly accessible. The Scottish Information Commissioner report (' SIC Report 2005') 121 is significant in that it encapsulates many of our findings and provides excellent insight into similar issues arising for local authorities, voluntary and religious organisations attempting to locate records for the review. For those reasons, this section highlights related information from that report.

In the SIC Report 2005 states that the SIC's records examination focused upon whether the Scottish Executive took "reasonable" action to locate and make accessible "…all historical records relating to institutional children's homes and residential schools in Scotland". This approach involved generating an audit trail for the SEED search and considering records management practices over certain decades. The SIC Report 2005 shows investigators reviewed Scottish Executive records management policy and "examined and tested the measures introduced by the Scottish Executive to open these records to the public". During the initial stages, the SIC's process included interviewing survivors of abuse about their information needs.

The SIC Report 2005 states that interest in records relating to children's residential establishments had been generated by individual information requests, court actions and the media. In response to individual information requests, the SIC report notes that SEED wrote to each individual confirming "...that the Executive held no personal records relating to the applicant but that it did hold records which relate to the management, running and inspection of some institutions". In the letters sent, the SIC Report 2005 notes that SEED identified records that may interest each applicant and offered to make them available for inspection at SEED's offices. The SIC Report 2005 stated that the "...full response to the applicants making requests for information about residential childcare and education took as long as 22 months to provide" despite the existence of the Code of Practice on Access to Scottish Executive Information (1999) that responses should occur within 20 working days.

In reference to the court cases, the SIC Report 2005 notes that the "[l]ack of access to records about the pursuer's school record and information about the running of the school has proved a significant difficulty in the conduct of the case" although SEED provided records to the pursuer's (persons instigating court action) agents and assisted the court commissioner in trying to locate records:

"The issue then of what records were held, what they contained and who could access them is an important part of establishing what is known and can be known about the experience of those in institutional childcare and education.

"What is clear to me as will be seen in subsequent sections of this report, is that when questions were raised about records and requests were received about specific institutions and their residents, the Executive did not know what information it held. In response, it undertook a lengthy programme of research to identify what might be available."

The SIC Report 2005 concluded that "past records management practices were less robust than the current system, particularly in the maintenance of records registers. The information held on the IMPReS database for old records is entirely dependent on the quality of the information that was available at the department level at the time. In turn, NAS is entirely dependent on the quality of the records which are submitted to it."

"The Scottish Executives records for institutional care and education are not about individuals, but tend to be policy papers and inspection reports...the existence of such information in records appears to be due to the decision-making of individual record holders...these records are very much of their time and that the existence of apparently unrelated material in historical records is often what gives insight to the cultural and social values of the period in question...they contain what they contain. However, it is important to note that the contents are not focused in the way that might be desired by an individual searching for information about their own education or care."

The SIC Report 2005 noted that the titles of records could be misleading and that the search was hampered by the "lack of clarity" about what people were looking for:

"The greatest single obstacle encountered in the Scottish Executive's search, however, was the mismatch between expectations, the volume of records available and their actual contents."

The SIC report also observed that in their sample check of redacted records, resulting from a NAS search, that no records contained "structured personal records for individual children...":

"Most records, however, contain some personal information relating to individual pupils or members of staff. Such information appears to have been recorded by Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools in relation to specific incidents that were brought to their attention in the course of their work...these records are very much 'of their time' and it is clear that information about individual children did pass freely between the institutions and the inspectors…

"[some records contain]...quarterly punishment returns records submitted by headmasters of the approved schools to the Education Department. These documents are countersigned by the school's senior management and record the names of pupils, method of corporal punishment, reasons for the punishment and the names of staff administering and witnessing it...

"...record titles do not always reflect the range of the contents', which may be attributable to the '...particular shortcomings and inconsistencies of past records management policies and practices...

"Although the records contain much that will be of importance to researchers in the future, the variety of the record contents presents potential problems for anyone who intends to conduct a search for evidence of institutional child abuse. It means that there can be no substitute for a thorough examination of record contents, an extremely time consuming exercise."

The SIC Report 2005 noted "there are inconsistencies in the time series of documents within the records" and "apparent gaps in the records" which may be due to "deficiencies of the records management practices, changes in the frequency of inspections and destruction or loss of parts of the records over time'".

In conclusion, the SIC Report 2005 determined that SEED's search for records was challenging because SEED officers had to deal with large volumes of records containing unstructured information. The SIC Report 2005 stated that it found files in their review "...which should have been identified and recovered by SEED". As the process for searching for information was undocumented, the SCI Report 2005 indicated it wasn't possible to determine how efficient the process for looking for information had been. It also stated that "over 2 years of systematic searching has gone on and the task is not yet concluded" and that while certain files were not recovered by SEED, "such instances should not detract from the considerable success in recovering relevant records from millions of files stored over the past 60 years."

According to the SIC Report 2005, a key question arose as to what the records ought to have contained. "The answer to this may rely on interpretation of the responsibilities of different public authorities for the care of the children and for the management of the institutions", noting that these responsibilities were unclear:

"What is apparent from this examination is that there is very little evidence that the records held by the Scottish Executive contain the information that would meet the hopes and expectations of members of INCAS and their helpline users. However, the scraps of personal information held in government records may be all that is available and therefore they assume a great importance to individuals."

Review search outcome: SEED and NAS records

We concur with several findings and conclusions in the SIC report 2005. In our review of SEED's disclosed records, for example, we found it was impossible to know from the records' names what information the records held and whether they contained relevant information. We found that many records contained varying degrees of significant information, making it an extremely time-consuming undertaking to assess relevancy given the large numbers of records that contained potentially important information. Similar to the SIC report's finding, we found additional open records in the NAS catalogue, not on SEED's disclosed list, that we considered relevant to our review. We also examined a small number of records at NAS that were 'closed' after gaining permission from SEED; we found that they contained potentially significant information.

Overall, we determined that SEED and NAS records contain considerable information that was potentially necessary to fulfilling the review's remit. As lack of time and staff made it impossible to examine those records thoroughly, however, the report's findings are limited by these factors.

Conclusion

Major local government reorganisations and changes to children's services legislation in 1968 occurred during the period 1950 to 1995. These factors would have impacted the generation and preservation of records associated, directly or indirectly, with central government as well as local authorities and organisations. Changes in legislation and local government structure meant the reporting and policy relationship between organisations and central government changed, as well, throughout the years. Those factors, together with the absence of appropriate records legislation, likely had significant implications for records management practices at all levels.

The former Scottish Executive Education Department (' SEED') made records available for us to consider during the review. Prior to these records being made available, the Scottish Information Commissioner had examined SEED's process of gathering records relating to historical abuse in residential schools and children's homes. The ensuing report (Scottish Information Commissioner, 2005) identified many issues that arose for us and we concur with several findings in that report. The report identifies the challenges associated with SEED's search for records, such as the large numbers of existing records and the nature of unstructured information. Some findings from the Scottish Information Commissioner's report are as follows:

  • Past records management practices were not as robust as current practices.
  • What records exist today depends upon the quality of record-keeping in the past.
  • Most SEED records contain policy information and, for example, inspection reports.
  • Titles can be misleading and there are inconsistencies and gaps in the records (Scottish Information Commissioner, 2005).

In our search for central government records, like the Scottish Information Commissioner, we learned about the existence of records not identified on SEED's list - records potentially relevant to the review. This factor made the task of reviewing all possibly relevant SEED records very time-consuming and limited due to lack of resources. It was difficult to determine from the record names, for example, what information the records held and - without reviewing the records - whether the information in the records was relevant. In many of the records we reviewed, however, we identified important information germane to our understanding about children's residential services.

Chapter 6: Searching for information: Voluntary organisations and religious organisations

Introduction

We depended on information located within records held by voluntary organisations, religious organisations and local authorities. The following two chapters report on the process we used to gather information; they describe the challenges organisations and local authorities encountered in their search for information and what this meant to our review.

As no central database identifies local authorities and organisations responsible for managing children's residential establishments between 1950 and 1995, we began gathering information by trying to find what organisations had management responsibilities. We then circulated questionnaires to local authorities and organisations and, later, sent surveys to local authority archivists. One response reflected assumptions that information was readily available and in specified locations:

"As we have discussed with the Executive, they are likely to hold most of the information that you require and an approach via the archives of ex-Regional Councils is likely to provide much of the other information. In addition there have already been enquiries into historical abuse which have gathered much of the information you are requesting."

As the following chapter demonstrates, however, we learned that there was no detailed regulatory framework publication for children's residential services covering the period 1950 to 1995. We identified that records containing information about children's residential services are held in multiple locations and in large volume throughout Scotland and England (see Appendix B). No central database identifies where these records are, which made it extremely difficult to identify what records existed. And, while there have been previous inquiries into child abuse within residential settings in Scotland, we were unable to identify any public inquiries with a similar remit or that covered a 45-year time frame from 1950.

We distinguished between information held in people's memories and information in records, although the two are invariably intertwined. Some individuals associated with children's residential services could recall what records existed, identifying possible locations and making it possible to glean information from them. On the other hand, many individuals with knowledge about the early years under review have retired or are deceased, taking their corporate memory with them.

Our task of obtaining significant information, therefore, could not be easily accommodated by local authorities and organisations as their information-searching process was a resource-intensive task. Deciding what information was relevant to the review, was difficult, if not impossible, for organisations and local authorities to decide without viewing all their available records. Despite the challenges, however, many individuals and organisations recognised the importance of records and made considerable efforts to assist us.

These chapters represent a preliminary, mapping introduction to records associated with children's residential services and held by voluntary organisations, religious organisations and local authorities. The search for information entailed circulating questionnaires and surveys, interviewing and making site visits to places throughout Scotland and England. However our work doesn't set out to represent an exhaustive information-gathering process. Rather, this preliminary introduction illustrates the need for further investigation.

Searching for information: general approach

We began by assessing which voluntary and religious organisations had provided children's residential services throughout Scotland so that we could ask whether those organisations held records. We learned that local authorities had sometimes assumed responsibility for residential establishments managed by voluntary and religious organisations, complicating our search for information. Our search didn't include contact with private trusts, specialised service providers of residential establishments for children with disabilities or individual providers of children's residential services, such as small children's homes.

We circulated a questionnaire to 32 local authorities to identify information about past children's residential establishments falling within current local authority boundaries, record locations and management policies. We also forwarded questionnaires to 11 voluntary and religious organisations, in a staged process as new information came to light about what organisations might have provided children's residential services. We obtained information about records through letters and interviews with those who had some association with records, including designated persons responsible for responding to our questionnaire; archivists; librarians; records managers; service providers and various other people with historical knowledge about children's services.

After sending the questionnaires, we met with archivists to discuss various issues about information-gathering. With expert help from a local authority archivist, we also developed and forwarded a survey to all local authority archivists to establish what children's residential services' records, and related information, might be in their records management systems and archives.

Questionnaire

At the outset we considered what information might be relevant based upon what is known today. As there was no existing regulatory framework for the early years of the review, it was not possible to be guided by statutory references to records. It was also impossible to anticipate what information existed within records and what information might be relevant without thoroughly examining various records relating to children's residential services. To acquire general information about such services and past management policies, therefore, we circulated questionnaires to local authorities and organisations.

One local authority representative noted that the questionnaire reflected "modern practices and protocols that were not the subject of good practice guidelines over the past 50 years", stating that "...we could not expect to find examples in place". This statement, however, presumed a linear progression from poor practice to good practice, which we didn't want to assume. Relatively little is known about children's residential services in Scotland, particularly for the early years under review.

As a result, the questionnaire was designed to give local authorities and organisations the opportunity to inform us about what management approaches existed, to confirm what didn't exist and to report on what isn't known. In our own review of records, we found examples from the 1950s of good practice by today's standards, suggesting that research into this area might result in challenges to those assumptions that good practice examples didn't exist.

The questionnaire, divided into three time periods to reflect key legislation and policy developments, requested information for the period 1950-1995 as follows:

  • Types of children's residential services provided, whether those services were directly or indirectly managed
  • Whether external monitoring or self-monitoring structures were used when providing children's residential services and details about inspection responsibilities in particular
  • Whether local authorities and organisations held general and specific records for children's residential services such as: general management records, policy and practice guidelines, inspection reports, records for individual children's establishments, individuals records (for former residents) and other unspecified records
  • Whether local authorities and organisations held specific policy and practice guidelines about employee recruitment and training, child protection, children's rights, whistleblowing, formal complaint processes, bullying, grievances, incident reports, advocacy services, records management and inspections
  • Whether local authorities and organisations had records for children's residential services that are no longer available and, if so, what records are no longer accessible

The questionnaire also attempted to determine specific details about children's residential establishments in Scotland between 1950 and 1995, requesting the following information:

  • Names of children's residential establishments
  • Dates opened
  • Locations
  • Purposes
  • Young people attending (age, gender, needs)
  • Dates closed (if applicable)
  • Dates reopened (if applicable)
  • Current status
  • Types of service monitoring
  • Other relevant details

Survey

We circulated surveys to all archivists in Scotland after learning about the significance of their role in locating and preserving records. We met local authority and NAS archivists several times for their expert input and guidance on important issues about records associated with children's residential services. The survey requested the following information:

  • Overview of holdings in archives and records management systems
  • General local authority department records pertaining to children's residential establishments (that is, policy and practice guidelines, annual reports, committee reports to council, senior management reports, organisational and structural reviews and minutes of committee meetings)
  • Specific records from various sources (that is, inspection reports, children's officer and director reports, investigation reports, audit reports on local authority departments and residential establishments)
  • Special reports on children's residential establishments
  • Children's residential establishment records generated on-site (that is, log books, punishment books, visitor's books and individual case files)
  • Names of children's residential establishments
  • Voluntary and church organisation records
  • Access to records policies

Search outcome: Voluntary organisations and religious organisations

The following section summarises the responses submitted by voluntary organisations and religious organisations to the questionnaire. These responses took various forms; some voluntary and religious organisations completed the questionnaire while others provided information in other forms, such as through interviews and detailed correspondence.

Voluntary organisations

We began with little information about what voluntary organisations in Scotland provided residential services to children from 1950 to 1995. There was, and remains, no central database with that information. The complex nature of children's services exacerbated this issue, further complicated by how children's residential establishments were defined and the magnitude of managerial structures in place. The review contacted six known voluntary organisations providing residential services to children from 1950 to 1995; however, we don't purport to have identified all voluntary organisations responsible for children's residential services during this period. The varying descriptions of children's residential establishments, for example, reveals the extent to which many voluntary organisations may have been involved in service provision (see Appendix A).

Some voluntary organisations operated strictly as children's charities while others provided various services to children, their families and other adults with specialised needs. Some organisations provided services in Scotland while others offered services throughout the United Kingdom. These factors made identifying, locating and accessing records specific to children's residential services extremely challenging for us and for the voluntary organisations helping us.

All the voluntary organisations contacted submitted the questionnaire in full or provided information in detailed form, which included outlining the difficulties those organisations had locating and making information available. We visited locations where voluntary organisations kept records and interviewed people responsible for managing their records. All the voluntary organisations had attempted to locate and archive their records or were in varying stages of developing their archives to ensure important records were preserved. Individuals working in voluntary organisations make decisions about what records to preserve, although not all individuals are trained in records management or as archivists. Some voluntary organisations have placed certain records in university archives, where the records are managed by trained records managers and archivists. No regulatory framework exists, however, to ensure statutory compliance and consistent practices among all the voluntary organisations holding children's residential services records.

C hildren's residential establishments

Most voluntary organisations were able to provide names and details relating to the children's residential establishments they were responsible for, although the lack of a centralised database made it difficult for the voluntary organisations to trace the history of the services they provided. Most voluntary organisations, however, found it difficult to locate significant information relating to each establishment.

Challenges to locating records

Like religious organisations and local authorities, voluntary organisations have been in existence for many years and throughout that time many changes have affected their record-keeping practices. Their records, located in places throughout Scotland and England, are found within one, two or more locations (such as various organisation locations and university archives).

One voluntary organisation reported that it was challenging to find information for the questionnaire because they were working on their archive, it was work that required substantial hours and "there is no person around with that kind of time". This organisation said they were deciding what records to keep and to not keep, although they said this was a "big job" partly because the records were split between two locations. Another organisation said that they couldn't answer many questions in the questionnaire due to the extensive time period of 45 years. The organisation said that, while children's records were held for their children's homes, "...there are no general records which are easily accessible due to there being a large number of documents, with information that is difficult to search by type..."

One voluntary organisation reported great difficulty in responding to the questionnaire. They said that although they had an extensive archive dating back to the mid-19th century, "this archive consists almost entirely of the records of individual children who spent varying lengths of time at [the voluntary organisation]..." and not management records. The organisation said it had an access to historical records policy that was affected by confidentiality rules and data protection laws.

Another voluntary organisation reported that, after consulting their insurers and solicitors, they were able to provide certain information in response to our questionnaire. In attempting to locate information, this organisation had sought assistance from their after-care department staff, library staff and properties department while also searching library card indexes held in two locations. The organisation said it was difficult to decide relevancy, the reasons for retaining and destroying of historical information and "the balance of the documentation", such as whether it provided a "balanced historical viewpoint".

In identifying the challenges involved in searching for information about children's residential services, including the cost and personnel implications, one organisation also said their library card system "...is not sophisticated and although it is possible to identify some homes, it is impossible to review the relevance of material without the material being accessed and reviewed". The library card system "...did not highlight generic questions such as 'complaints' and, as a result, the information cannot be systematically traced". The organisation said that the university libraries index was similar:

"A reference to a home may state that numerous pages are available, sometimes 100 or more, but the relevance of these pages is again impossible to judge without access and review. The material held on microfiche is again poorly labelled and difficult to access making any search extremely difficult and time-consuming and the relevance of material identified unclear."

As to policy and guidance to 1955, this organisation said they were unable to find out if their historical information was complete or whether guidance was located elsewhere. For the period after 1955, it had "...no consistent and detailed record of policy changes". The organisation said it was difficult "for practical reasons" to complete the questionnaire.

Another voluntary organisation said that a residential school under their management had undergone a major review during the latter review period. In relation to both care and education records, the review noted inadequacies in the early '90s:

"The standard of filing and recording in [the residential school] falls below reasonable expectation. Currently two sets of files exist. The main files…contain only admission papers, review reports and correspondence. They do not contain any ongoing assessment or record of key events and developments in children's lives. The other set of files are the Family Counsellors' files and these are only a record of their home visits and contacts with the family. They are not files on children.

"No files for individual children are kept by the care staff in the units so there is no chronicling of developments in children's care and changing perceptions of their needs and worries. One result of this is that when it is necessary to write review reports there is no record to refer to and reliance has to be placed on subjective memory, undue emphasis inevitably falling on recent events and perceptions.

"Log books meet minimum statutory requirements to keep a record of all major and minor incidents which happen in the school but do no more than that. Reading them gives an overall impression of life in each of the Units but their value is limited to a chronological record of events and a means of communication and update between shifts.

"The level of recording by class teachers was uneven and there was no uniform system. With the removal of the former Headmaster's managerial overview established systems of central form filing had fallen into disuse..."

A voluntary organisation identified the potential location of relevant information when they reported that the chair of its management committee submitted written reports to the Scottish Council. According to the organisation, copies of these reports were also sent to their head office. The former Scottish Office and the immediate local authority were represented on the residential establishment's management committee, making it possible that similar records with relevant information existed in these locations as well.

One voluntary organisation conducting a residential school review in the early 1990s found that "children's records are fragmented and inadequate" and "log books are of limited value because their content is largely routine." The review also found that as there was no complaints system at the school for parents or children, there was no record of complaints. Another voluntary organisation said their archive of management records remained at a residential school that's open today, while additional records were held in the organisation's local and head offices. "It has not been possible to access all of these files within the time frame for this exercise." While the early years records had not been reviewed, this organisation said "...it seems unlikely that review of these files will add substantially to this report..."

Another voluntary organisation referred to a "Professional Advisory Panel" established to advise the residential school's principal and managers "...on policy and practice issues". This showed another possible location where significant information might be located. As the various groups on this panel were representatives from the voluntary organisation, the residential school, the local authority social work and education departments and an educational psychologist, it is possible that each person represented on the panel generated records now held in various locations. This complexity shows the massive challenge faced by voluntary organisations and by us when trying to locate information about children's residential services.

Records: Locations and types

The records for children's residential services provided by voluntary organisations are located within individual residential establishments, individual voluntary organisations, libraries, museums and various archives located in Scotland and England 122.

One voluntary organisation reported that "[a]part from the individual children's records our archive is very slim", although they indicated that the archive did contain a range of records: annual reports, narratives of fact, register of staff, visual material (including photographs, films, videotapes), letters and artefacts. The organisation speculated that the lack of records may be due to the "different standard of record-keeping prevailing at that time."

Another voluntary organisation said they didn't hold "relevant" records, although it was possible significant records remained with the residential school archive, as the school remained open. One voluntary organisation reported that their library held annual reports and publications, which included "books about the changes and developments in residential care" and a university archive held various records specific and non-specific to children's residential services. Most voluntary organisations, however, reported that policy and procedural records were most difficult to locate. Some said that certain records were lost during moves and changes to services:

"Whilst we have records for individual young people we have little else...Each move/opening/closure appears to have been accompanied by a clear out of old records...We do respond regularly to former residents who wish for copies of their files, but there appears to be little else still in existence."

One voluntary organisation said they held some admission books, "minute books", organisation magazines and annual reports, adding, however, that they didn't hold any log books, punishment books or medical records. It said the card index for the library/archive was "not reliable". Another voluntary organisation stated that records in their two local archives consisted primarily of management committee minutes, associated correspondence and reports dating from 1955, although other records existed in England.

Most voluntary organisations hold children's files for the children living in residential establishments managed by their organisation. On the other hand, management records specific to children's residential services were difficult for voluntary organisations to locate, held in small numbers or did not exist at all. The voluntary organisations reported that some general information about children's residential services did exist. But they added that it was difficult, if not impossible, for them to assess what might be relevant to us because possibly significant information was held within other records.

As there was no systematic or consistent record-keeping in earlier years, voluntary organisations indicated that their held records are difficult to catalogue, affecting the search for particular types of information. Like local authorities and religious organisations, corporate memory that might help to locate information for early years, was often held by people who no longer worked for them, adding to the complexity of locating information.

Religious organisations123

Our review began with little information about the religious organisations in Scotland providing residential services to children from 1950 to 1995. Like the voluntary organisations and local authorities, the religious organisations have no central database with specific information about children's residential establishments and no other central system exists within Scotland. As we've indicated, this issue is complicated by the diverse nature of the services provided to children in residential establishments in general.

As a consequence, we found it extremely difficult to determine which religious organisations had provided children's residential services and which held relevant records. We contacted 16 religious organisations to ask whether and what services they provided; and 11 religious organisations advised they had some involvement. This association, particularly during the early years, was extensive and complex. Some organisations only provided children's residential services in Scotland while others provided extensive services to children and adults throughout the UK. These factors made it difficult for them to identify, locate and access significant records.

According to archivists for the religious organisations, some individuals within religious organisations have been slow to recognise the importance of records. Many religious organisations do not employ full time archivists or records managers, making it difficult for the organisations to respond to requests for information. This situation, however, is beginning to change. In growing recognition of the importance of its history, one religious organisation has employed an archivist to write their history. The archivist indicated the task has taken him on a search for historical records in many places including Europe and America. Several religious organisations, while recognising the importance of preserving their records, stated there are resource constraints that made it difficult to address record preservation in a timely way.

Children's residential establishments

We requested information from religious organisations about their children's residential establishments and met with varied responses. Some organisations had specific, detailed information about what children's residential establishments they'd managed while others had little or no information. We found that it was difficult for the religious organisations to determine where relevant information relating to their children's residential establishments might be located and what records might exist.

Challenges to locating historical records

We found that, similar to the voluntary organisations and local authorities, religious organisations faced many challenges in locating records. One archivist reported that "...time is taken up by going through minutes of various committees to find exactly where various parts of the organisation fitted into the organisation" while another archivist reported that "...archives are slowly and painfully being reorganised but there is a big task still to be done as I am only part-time archivist". Some, but not all, religious organisations contacted had archivists although many were employed part-time, making the task of locating information more difficult for them. Like local authorities and voluntary organisations, the religious organisations said that people who know, or knew, about records were no longer employed or associated with them adding to the archivists challenges as well.

Some religious organisations, under the guidance of an archivist, had formally moved their records into a records management system to be archived later. Some organisations said it had been, and remained, expensive and time-consuming to employ records managers and archivists. This was particularly the case for children's residential services' records when that service was relatively small compared with other services they provided. One religious organisation said they had no archivist at their on-site location and many records sat uncatalogued in boxes. However there was an archivist at the college location where various other records belonging to the religious organisation were stored.

One organisation reported that they had been in existence throughout the UK for 100 years and beyond, generating thousands of records. Some organisations said that they had provided, and continue to provide, various services to children and adults; as a consequence there are large numbers of records for religious organisations. These records, which are in different places throughout the UK, incorporate information beyond what is specific to children's residential services, making it challenging to trace particular types of information.

Religious organisations said that, like local authorities and voluntary organisations, they had changed offices and regions so that it was often unclear what happened to the records. Some noted that reorganisations and moves had resulted in the dispersal and disposal of certain records. Others found their records in boxes in basements after contact from us; others had records on shelves waiting to be reviewed and catalogued.

Religious organisations also stated that records relating to children's residential services and management policies, for example, had been merged with other less relevant records. The religious organisations reported that it was impractical to keep old policies and other related information and that locating records specific to Scotland for those organisations with projects throughout the UK was difficult. Some religious organisations also noted that there was no previous requirement to keep management records relating to their children's residential services.

Some religious organisations reported that records tended to remain in the residential schools and children's homes until these closed. As there was no clear policy about records transfer, many of those records went missing and they are hard to locate today. One religious organisation said their records in Scotland were scarce as they had a policy of destroying records after seven years (although this organisation said they followed a different policy in England).

Religious organisations said that labelling records had been problematic; it wasn't always apparent from labels what the records contained. Labelling had been inconsistent, haphazard and depended on individual judgement. These particular challenges made records managers and archivists work difficult and time-consuming.

While some religious organisations acknowledged that their record management practices were poor in the past, they also indicated that those practices had improved in recent years. Some organisations said their present practices were influenced by records guidance issued by the government. One organisation said they consulted with voluntary organisations for guidance on preserving their records relating to children's residential services as part of their growing initiative to archive related material. The large numbers of records that have not been put into records management systems or archived, however, made it challenging for religious organisations to locate and provide information to us.

Historical records: General locations

Children's residential services records, and other related childcare service information, belonging to religious organisations may be located in centralised archives, diocesan archives, archdiocesan archives, individual church archives, museums and various other archives, including the National Archives of Scotland. Their records may also be found in local authority archives, social work departments, libraries, museums, the former Scottish Executive Education Department and other non-religious archives.

One religious organisation based throughout the United Kingdom said that their records specific to Scotland may be integrated with other records and located in various locations as they had many projects throughout England and Scotland. They said their records tended to remain in project locations until the project closed, when the records were sent to a centralised location; they remained there until it was possible to review the records for archiving.

Some large religious organisations are very complex, making it difficult for people within and outwith the organisation to locate records associated with particular topics. When boards of managers managed approved schools, for example, they were often associated with religious organisations operating as autonomous entities that may, or may not, have deposited boards of managers' records with religious archives existing throughout the United Kingdom.

Some religious organisations said they gave their children's residential establishment records, including children's files, to local authorities when the organisations ceased to be involved with children's residential services. Others said that management records generated on-site often remained in the establishment when religious organisations ceased to be involved with it. Various religious organisations, however, also operated child guidance clinics and managed childcare committees, with some records deposited in archives and others not.

Locating records within individual religious organisations

The religious organisations have taken various approaches to their records, with many placing greater significance on preserving records than in earlier years. Like voluntary organisations and local authorities, some religious organisations' records - and the information in the records - are sparse. One archivist, who described past record-keeping practices as "haphazard", said that records management needed to be considered within the context of the time:

"It was difficult to determine what records should have been kept, what might be missing and what wasn't required at various points time."

One international religious organisation said they had no "official" archivist although someone was responsible for managing their records. When we contacted this organisation they found boxes of records relating to children's residential services in their basement, providing us with a list of all records held and access to those records. Another religious organisation said that records for one children's residential establishment were dispersed to two locations: the organisation's central location and an education authority.

Another international religious organisation said they had no archivist, making it difficult for them to locate records. The organisation said that, while they were looking for information, they didn't expect to find much: "Our headquarters have moved four times during the period you mention, and have been subject to a fire and a flood! I have not found any records relating to management policies guiding work in providing residential care services to children and doubt that such exists."

The solicitors for another religious organisation stated that people associated with the religious organisation were employed at various residential schools during the review's period:

"[The religious organisation] did not own, manage or run schools in Scotland. A small number of the [religious organisation] were individually employed by the then Managers of schools in various capacities including Head Master, Deputy Master and as teachers in certain schools....

"...the [religious organisation] did not provide - nor was the [religious organisation] contracted to provide - residential care for children and young people in Scotland in the period 1950-1995. It also follows that our clients hold no records relating to the pupils, staff or the running of the establishments in Scotland, other than a community book."

We asked if we could see this community book. The solicitors replied:

"The community book is unlikely to be of any relevance to your enquiry....the book holds records of members of [the religious organisation] who were employed at the Schools but also members of [religious organisation] who were not. Some of those members were employed at Schools. However, the community book was not held for, or on behalf of, any given School."

The solicitors added that "...our clients are under no obligation to allow your researcher unfettered access to their archives simply to confirm what has been stated".

In contrast, other religious organisations told us about more extensive records that they held. However all religious organisations acknowledged that poor record keeping practices in the past had led to incomplete records associated with their children's residential services. One religious organisation's part-time archivist indicated that their archives in England contained some records "...of the various residential services..." that the organisation provided. Another archivist said that their organisation held management administration records, providing us with a schedule of what records were held. The archivist said their record-keeping requirements had changed over the years and information they didn't keep, with hindsight, was information they should have kept and would keep today.

Another religious organisation said it was challenging to locate records as one children's home, for example, had changed its purpose "...many times over the years" while other children's homes transferred from one organisational responsibility to another, or had changed functions - or both of these. This organisation stated, however, that some records did exist. Another religious organisation said that all their records, managed by a part-time archivist, were in a central location in England. One religious organisation said all the records from their hospital for children with mental disabilities went to the Scottish Mental Health Office in Edinburgh when the hospital closed, while other management records were held in their own archives or went to local religious organisation archives.

One archivist said that when their organisation's children's homes closed throughout the UK, all their registers had been put in the cellars of the main organisation so the archivist could review what needed to be archived. The archivist said that records were requested from various locations, with the result that some records were sent and some weren't. According to the archivist, all children's records went to the local authorities although the archivist realised "too late" that those children's records shouldn't have been sent to the local authorities as the organisation now believed they have an after-care responsibility to former residents. The archivist said that senior people within the organisation recognised the value of keeping historical records and regretted that so many records had been destroyed, lost or not properly maintained.

Historical records: Types and other information

One religious organisation said they held some general management records, individual files, registers of admissions and discharges and log books for 1950-1969, for example. They don't hold specific policy and practice guidelines for this period (although they indicated that Social Work Services Group circulars would have covered this time period). This organisation said they had records that were no longer accessible, such as general management records, policy and practice guidelines, inspection reports, and individual files on former residents.

Drawing from organisational information, another religious organisation said that between 1950 and 1969 formal complaint processes, inspection processes and managerial reporting existed. They said that there were regular inspections of their children's residential establishments through external management and financial auditing processes during this period. This religious organisation indicated that regular inspections by Social Work Services Group and HMI took place, but they had no knowledge about whether the local authorities had inspection processes in place. The organisation couldn't determine from their records if policy and practice guidelines existed for the following: employee recruitment and training, child protection, whistleblowing, formal complaint process, bullying, grievances, incident reports, advocacy support, records and information management and inspections.

For the period 1970 to 1985, this organisation said they had used formal complaint processes, inspections, external visitors, audit reports and managerial reporting to monitor their children's residential services. The organisation said their work was subject to annual external scrutiny of management, financial audits and "dialogue with user authority" while other outside agencies inspected their children's residential establishments on an annual or regular basis. The organisation said these agencies were local authority education departments inspecting the residential schools and social work departments inspecting children's homes and residential care for children with disabilities. The organisation said that central government's Social Work Services Group's work largely set the policy and practice guidelines for this period.

This organisation said they had records for the period 1970 to 1985 that were no longer accessible, such as some general management records, all policy and practice guidelines, some inspection reports, and some individual children's records. They said they had policies and procedures for employee recruitment and training, formal complaint process, grievances and inspections. On the other hand, they said there were no policies and procedures for whistleblowing, bullying, advocacy support and records and information management. They were unable to determine whether policies existed for child protection and incident reports.

For the period 1986 to 1995, the organisation said they had used formal complaint processes, advocacy services, inspections, external visitors, audit reports, managerial reporting, incident reports and care plan reviews to monitor their children's residential services. The organisation said their work was subject to external scrutiny of management annually, financial audits and strategic review while other outside agencies inspected their children's residential establishments annually or regularly. The organisation said these these agencies consisted of HMIe, a local authority inspection unit, Social Work Services Group, Registration and Inspection and the Care Commission. The organisation said that the local authority education department inspected residential schools every year and the social work department inspected the residential schools and residential care for children with disabilities.

The organisation said that for the period 1986 to 1995 they had some general management records, policy and practice guidelines, inspection reports and individual records for former residents. They also had policy and practice guidelines for this period related to employee recruitment and training, child protection, formal complaint process, bullying, grievances, incident reports, advocacy support. But they had no policy and practice guidelines for children's rights, records information and management or inspections. The organisation said they'd had records that were no longer available, such as some general management records, policy and practice guidelines, inspection reports, individual children's residential establishment records and individual records. For this period, the organisation said they had policies and procedures for employee recruitment and training, child protection, children's rights, whistleblowing, formal complaint process, bullying, grievances, incident reports and inspections. There were no policies and procedures on inspections, records and information management or advocacy support.

Another religious organisation had responsibility for several children's residential establishments between 1950 and 1995. For the period 1950-1985 they didn't know if the organisation monitored their children's residential establishments in any form or whether, as an organisation, they monitored their own work. This organisation said they couldn't determine from their records whether local authorities or their own organisation inspected their children's residential establishments or if outside agencies had that responsibility. They also found it difficult to find records relating to their children's residential establishments, including specific policy and procedure records for this period, and were unable to find out if those records ever existed.

The organisation told us that for the period 1986 to 1995 they monitored their children's residential establishments through formal complaint processes, advocacy services, children's rights services, inspections, external visitors, audit reports, managerial reporting, child protection reports, incident reports, care plan reviews and whistleblowing reports. They used internal inspections and internal audits to monitor their own work. They reported that local authorities inspected their residential services on an annual basis. The organisation said there were no other inspection processes although they added that it was possible that local authority social work inspected one of their children's residential establishments every year.

This organisation had some records for this period relating to children's residential establishments. These included inspection reports and some individual records which were held in archives. The organisation couldn't find specific policy and practice guidelines for the period 1986 to 1995. It said that it had records for this period that were no longer available as "most records were destroyed", although the organisation didn't know specifically what records existed before their destruction. The organisation said that between 1986 and 1995, however, there were no policies and procedures on inspections, records and information management or advocacy support.

Another religious organisation provided names of children's residential establishments and details relating to several residential establishments in operation during the period under review. They said they had started services to children in the 19th century following a request from the government of the day. This religious said they held some admissions registers, management administration files, memoranda, guidelines, and handbooks which, they said, tended to be general in nature. One religious organisation provided a list of all children's homes and centres they operated throughout a 100-year period, including details such as the children's residential establishment's name, location, governing body and whether records existed for the places identified. In some instances, the organisation said it was unable to find records for particular children's residential establishments although their archives held some records for other places.

One religious organisation said they operated several children's homes and residential nurseries, visited by members of the organisation's central administration every two or three years between 1950 and 1969. The organisation said they used this process to monitor their work and that they didn't know if other inspections occurred. Their records for this time period consisted of a few individual records, admission registers and visitation reports (prepared by members of the congregation's central administration). The organisation couldn't say if they had - or had in the past - specific policies and practices relating to children's residential services for the period 1950 to 1995. They did, however, have a directory that covered some related policy information in general terms. The organisation said it held registers, including children's registers, account books and staffing records:

"The main body of records for this period comprise the admission register for each [children's residential establishment] - it is a complete series. These usually contain a record of discharge as well. There are supporting records of observations, discharge, and some after-care but these are not so complete as the admissions register.

"It was not common during this period to open individual case files. Such as there [were] may have been destroyed somewhere at some stage and not deposited in the central archive, or they were transferred to local authorities."

The organisation said that during the period 1970 to 1985 senior managers visited their children's residential establishments every two or three years and that the organisation used this process to monitor their own work. The organisation couldn't determine from their records whether other inspections occurred. They said their records consisted of few individual records, admission registers and visitation reports prepared by senior managers. They couldn't find out from their records whether they had - or ever did have - management policies and practices relating to children's residential services for this time period. However they said there were records that contained some information in general terms. They'd had records for this period but these were no longer available. They no longer had individual records except a "residual few":

"The main body of records for this period comprise the admission register for each [children's residential establishment] - it is a complete series, supplemented by a complete series of observations, discharge, and some after-care records. During the 70s, the use of individual case files developed rapidly & was virtually standard practice by 1985. When children were discharged or transferred or when houses were closed, the case files were routinely transferred to local authority or other appropriate agencies. The few files remaining in the archive were probably overlooked.

"The Directory gives advice/instructions on the general life of the [religious organisation] and there is some reference to records and to child care & education. What 'policy statements' there are would be very general and included in various communications of the [senior manager], and sometimes in response to developing legislation and practice."

Another religious organisation said they held various records in their archives relating to children's residential establishments, such as log books, registers (account books, staffing records, children's registers), visitor logs, the "odd" accident book and children's record. They said the children's registers contained: name of child, birth date, parents, baptism, parents' occupation, person recommending their care, date of discharge and "observations". They said they had "disposal books" which indicated where children went, what happened to them, and possibly some information about the children's mothers. They said they had some inspection reports, some house meeting reports, correspondence, financial information, miscellaneous papers, council minute books, and visitation reports by the senior managers. They added that the visitation reports might have included references to children. They said their children's files went to the local authorities, were destroyed or possibly went to their archives "by accident".

The archivist for another religious organisation reported attempts to gather historical records by writing and visiting various to obtain what was available. According to this archivist, some records obtained included children's files although the archivist reported that not many files existed if there were no "significant events" in the children's lives or the children "didn't cause any trouble". The archivist said the organisation created children's files if, for example, social services were involved. The archivist mentioned that social services would also have children's files. The archivist noted that the organisation had few children's files for the period before 1970; after 1970 the organisation generated a larger number of files.

One religious organisation said they were responsible for several children's residential establishments that were during the period under review. This organisation said they withdrew their children's residential services when Scottish Office funding stopped in 1983 and that new management assumed responsibility for one of their children's residential establishments. The organisation provided us with a complete list of all records held and directly associated with their children's residential establishments.

Chapter 7: Searching for information: Local Authorities

Introduction

This chapter reports on our information-gathering specific to local authorities.

As indicated earlier, during the period under review local authorities went through many policy changes and two major government reorganisations. What happened in one local authority exemplifies the upheaval these caused, and their potential effect on records. This local authority, formed in 1996, had existed within a larger regional council between 1975 and 1996. Between 1950 and 1975, however, it had consisted of three county councils with only a portion of each council falling within the boundaries of the current local authority. This situation was replicated across much of Scotland, requiring local authorities to manage complicated records transfers. Inevitably, records have been dispersed to various locations not always known, misplaced, or destroyed although there are also significant records in existence and accessible.

General challenges to locating information

Local authorities, like the voluntary and religious organisations, found it challenging to locate and provide information relating to children's residential services (see Appendix I). In our request for information, we anticipated that local authorities would inform us about children's residential establishments within their current geographical boundaries and that details about children's residential services would be taken from records located within their departments and archives. Responses by local authorities, and individuals within those local authorities, however, reveal how many local authorities found it difficult to provide information about children's residential services because their corresponding records have not been adequately managed and archived. In the absence of records, and the information within them, corporate memory relies on individuals, many of whom, for the earlier years in particular, have left their employment, taking that memory with them.

Some local authority representatives speculated that few records were available. Others made considerable efforts to locate records and information in them. One local authority reported that their council solicitor in charge of their archives was checking to see what materials the local authority possessed. This local authority, and another local authority, had no employed, trained archivist at the time. They reported, however, that they held records for children's residential services' staff, "significant events" in residential schools, such as incident reports, and punishment logs.

Many individuals commissioned by their local authorities to locate records and information were industrious and creative in their search for information. One local authority person contacted local volunteer-led history societies and local libraries, both of which he identified as possible sources of records relating to children's residential establishments. He contacted voluntary organisations, spoke to long-serving colleagues, met with retired colleagues and contacted local residential establishments for older people to see if anyone could remember children's residential establishments in the area. He visited his local authority archives to see how the records were catalogued and stored.

He found photographs of older children's residential establishments (that is, children's homes) in files in the local authority department offices. These photographs included pictures of children from the home going on adventure trips and adults working with children at that time. He referred to these photographs as "social documentation" that would likely have some relevance to people who lived and worked in children's residential establishments. He suggested that many records relating to children's residential establishments provided "fabulous insight" into the social history of child protection and child care services in Scotland in the earlier years.

Our request for information highlighted the nature of relationships between local authority departments and the local authority archives. Some local authority people working in departments worked closely with their local authority archivists to find information for us. Others didn't contact their archivist for help or resisted getting the archivist involved. One local authority had established an archival working group, which decided to prioritise the development of archival practices relating to children's residential services' records after contact from us. Their work included examining their record retention and disposal approaches, developing a system of coding and identifying what records the local authority possessed. We learned, however, that there are no consistent, standardised records management and archival practices throughout Scotland to ensure significant records are preserved in every local authority.

Questionnaire

Many factors had an impact on the local authorities' ability, or willingness, to locate information for us and respond to the questionnaire (see Appendix I). Some responded to the challenges they met by contacting us to discuss how to approach their work, given the difficulties they faced; they also said they realised the work's importance. Others, as indicated above, adopted an approach that best suited their circumstances, while some local authorities resisted involvement with searching for information. We recognised that the questionnaire was an imposition and we found it extremely helpful to receive information from local authorities about the challenges they faced when trying to locate records.

Seventeen local authorities returned the questionnaire, while 11 provided summarised information gleaned from information they were able to locate. Some local authorities didn't have, or didn't use, archivists. While we didn't receive questionnaire responses from all local authorities, it's possible to speculate that all local authorities faced similar challenges in locating information, particularly for the earlier periods under review.

Our information-gathering was also hampered when a professional association questioned our remit and its information requirements. This led to misinformation circulating about the review and resulted in some local authorities, which had demonstrated a willingness to help us, deciding not to continue with their search for information. It is difficult to know how much the involvement of this association affected the local authorities' co-operation in working with the review.

C hildren's residential establishments

No central database that we could locate identifies what children's residential establishments existed in Scotland, and where, during the period 1950 to 1995. Local authorities said that certain children's residential establishments known to them changed function, management or place, making it difficult to determine if and where related information might be. As many local authorities were unable to locate management records and children's files from closed children's residential establishments, it was sometimes difficult for them to identify what places had existed and to provide any related details.

Two councils commissioned a retired social worker with management experience to report on children's residential establishments run by the former corporation to 1975 and by the regional council from 1975 to 1995. This researcher examined council records such as "…minutes of the Children's Committee, the Education Committee, the Health and Welfare Committee and the Probation Committee. The sub-committee minutes of each of these have also been read." With the assistance of his local authority archivists, he was able to identify the children's residential establishments, including those establishments located outwith Scotland, where children from the local area were placed.

From scrutinising the minutes, this researcher learned that the detailing of children's officers' and probation officers' expenses prior to the early 1970s illustrated the places visited and how frequently officers made visits, for example, to approved schools. According to this research, these reporting practices changed when social work departments were introduced. This research led to a compilation of details about various children's residential establishments, including residential schools and children's homes, where children were placed by their home authority. This research also shows how it was possible to gain insights into monitoring practices by examining council minutes and reported financial information.

One local authority individual developed two lists of children's residential establishments: one of "confirmed existence" and one of "non-confirmed existence". He said he'd contacted two voluntary organisations with children's residential establishments within their boundaries. One voluntary organisation responded with detailed information about their children's home while the other "seemed surprised" that they had responsibility for a children's home that had been open within the local authority's boundaries. This shows the confusion that exists about what children's residential establishments existed throughout Scotland and what management structures governed the services they provided.

Records: Locations, types and general information

Local authorities' departments may or may not have preserved children and management records; transferred records or put records in local authority archives. We found that large volumes of records for children's residential services were situated in many locations throughout Scotland and England (see Appendix B). One local authority person reported that their records are held in regional archives, corporate archives, the local authority's social work and education departments, and in various storage centres. This person said local government reorganisations and the establishment of social work departments in the 1970s, led to confusion about where records were sent and what records existed. It appeared that many local authorities didn't know where all records associated with children's residential establishments might be located, what records should exist or what records were destroyed.

Local authorities' contacts reported that during local government and policy changes records went missing or may have been destroyed. Other local authorities' representatives said that records about children's residential services may be buried among other records as there was no clear, well-established cataloguing system for existing records. They said there were no consistent records management and archival practices among the local authorities, leading to potential difficulties in determining what types of records are held today and where, although it was apparent that many record types exist that have potential relevance to children's residential services (see Appendix C).

Records and policies: 1950 to 1969

Most local authorities indicated that they didn't know if they had any records relating to children's residential services for this period. Two said they did have such records, such as general management records, policy and practice guidelines, individual residential service provider records, and individual files for former residents. All local authorities said they had no inspection reports for children's residential services or their own departments for this time frame.

Many local authorities didn't know if they had specific policy and practice guidelines for the period before 1969, such as those relating to employee recruitment and training, child protection, children's rights, whistleblowing, formal complaint processes, bullying, grievances, incident reports, advocacy services, records and information management or inspections. All said they didn't know if they had those specific policy and practice guidelines.

Some local authorities reported that they'd had general records relating to children's residential services while others said they didn't know if they had such records. The records identified as no longer accessible included all or some of the following: general management records, policy and practice guidelines, inspection reports, individual residential services provider records, and individual files on former residents.

Records and policies: 1970 - 1985

Some local authorities had records relating to children's residential services for this period while other local authorities responded that they didn't or didn't know. Those with records said they had some general management records, policy and practice guidelines, individual residential service provider records, and individual files for former residents. All the local authorities said they had no inspection reports for children's residential services or their local authority departments.

Some local authorities had specific policy and practice guidelines for this period relating to child protection, formal complaint processes, grievances, incident reports and records and information management. None had, or knew if they had, specific policy and practice guidelines for employee training and recruitment, children's rights, whistleblowing, bullying, advocacy support or inspections.

Some local authorities had general records relating to children's residential services that were no longer accessible, while others said they didn't know. The records that were no longer available included some or all of the following: general management records, policy and practice guidelines, inspection reports, individual residential service provider records, and individual files on former residents.

Some local authorities had had specific policy and procedure guidelines, relating to this time frame, for employee recruitment and training, child protection, children's rights, bullying, grievances, incident reports and records and information management. Others said they didn't know if they had any specific policy and procedure guidelines or didn't have guidelines for whistleblowing, formal complaint processes, advocacy support or inspections.

Records and policies: 1986 - 1995

Most local authorities indicated that they had records relating to children's residential services for this time frame. A small number said they didn't have such records or didn't know. Records held were some or all of the following: general management records, with some policy and practice guidelines, inspection reports for residential services, inspection reports for local authority services, individual service provider records, and individual files for former residents.

Some local authorities reported that they had specific policy and procedure guidelines for employee recruitment and training, child protection, children's rights, whistleblowing, formal complaint processes, bullying, grievances, incident reports, advocacy support, records and information management and inspections. Others said they didn't have these specific policy and procedure guidelines; some said they didn't don't know if such guidelines existed or not.

Some local authorities reported they'd had general records that were no longer accessible while others said they didn't know if they had such records. One local authority indicated that their general records remained accessible. The records some local authorities reported as no longer accessible included some general management records, policy and practice guidelines, inspection reports, individual service provider records, and individual files on former residents.

Some local authorities said they'd had specific policy and procedure guidelines for employee recruitment and training, child protection, children's rights, whistleblowing, formal complaints processes, bullying, grievances, incident reports, advocacy support, records and information management and inspections. Some reported that they didn't have these specific policy and procedure guidelines while others said they didn't know if they had specific guidelines for employee recruitment and training, children's rights, whistleblowing, bullying, grievances, incident reports, advocacy support or records and information management.

Monitoring: 1950 to 1969

While one local authority said they directly monitored children's residential establishments, most local authorities said they didn't or didn't know if the local authority directly or indirectly monitored children's residential services between 1950 and 1969. One local authority stated that managerial reporting was used as a monitoring approach when providing direct children's residential services and incident reports were used to monitor indirect provision of children's residential services. Most local authorities, however, said that no monitoring approaches were used or they didn't know if particular monitoring approaches, such as child protection reports, incident reports, complaint processes or inspection services were used to monitor direct or indirect provision of residential services. All local authorities indicated they didn't know if their own work was monitored during this time frame or said that it wasn't.

In response to particular questions about inspection services for this period, all local authorities reported that they didn't know if their local authorities or other agencies had responsibility for inspecting children's residential establishments during this time frame. All local authorities reported that other agencies didn't have - or they didn't know if other agencies had - responsibility for inspecting the local authority departments.

Monitoring: 1970 to 1985

Many local authorities reported that they directly monitored their own children's residential establishments between 1970 and 1985 while several indicated that they didn't or didn't know. Most, however, said they didn't know if the local authority had monitored contracted children's residential services, while a few said that they did or did not. Some local authorities said they used monitoring approaches for children's residential establishments such as formal complaint processes, children's rights services, external visitors (that is, outside professionals providing services), managerial reporting, child protection reports, incident reports and care plan reviews. Some local authorities reported they did not use any monitoring approaches or they didn't know if any monitoring approaches were used during this time frame.

Some local authorities said they used certain monitoring approaches for contracted children's residential services; these approaches included managerial reporting, child protection reports, incident reports and care plan reviews. Other local authorities stated that they didn't use any monitoring approach or didn't know what, if any, monitoring took place. One said it monitored its own work in providing children's residential services, but most local authorities said they didn't or didn't know.

All local authorities responded that they did not have or didn't know if the local authority had responsibility for inspecting children's residential services during this period. Some reported that other agencies were directly responsible for inspecting children's residential establishments, while most local authorities replied that no agency had responsibility or they didn't know. The Scottish Office, Social Work Services Group and the Social Work Services Inspectorate were named as entities with inspection responsibilities.

All local authorities responded that other agencies had no responsibility for inspecting their local authority departments or they didn't know if any agency had such responsibility during this time period.

Monitoring: 1986 - 1995

Most local authorities responded that they directly monitored children's residential establishments. Two local authorities reported they didn't or they didn't know if monitoring took place. Some local authorities reported that they monitored contracted children's residential establishments while other local authorities reported that they didn't or didn't know.

The local authorities that directly monitored children's residential establishments said they used monitoring approaches such as formal complaint processes, advocacy services, children's rights services, inspections, external visitors, audit reports, managerial reporting, child protection reports, incident reports, care plan reviews and whistleblowing reports. One reported they didn't use any of these. While local authorities indicated they used the same monitoring approaches for indirect children's residential services, a few didn't know what monitoring approaches were used and one replied that none was used.

Several local authorities reported using monitoring approaches to inform their own work while a smaller number stated that they didn't monitor their own work or they didn't know if such monitoring occurred. Most responded that they had responsibility for inspecting children's residential services while some replied they did not. A small number reported that other agencies had responsibility while most said other agencies didn't have responsibility; one didn't know. Local authorities that reported inspection responsibilities indicated that education and social work departments had responsibility along with the Social Work Inspection Group.

A small number reported that other agencies had responsibility for inspecting their local authority while most replied that no other agency had responsibility and two local authorities reported they didn't know.

Local authorities: archivists survey

The following information represents general comments received from archivists in responses to the survey. At the time, five local authorities had no archivists in post. We received 19 completed surveys, with several archivists submitting a joint survey and two archivists providing information in another form. A summary of the records held within the archives can be found in Appendix C.

According to archivists, records were transferred from council to council during local government reorganisations, which seriously affected records' availability and preservation. They reported that some NHS records relating to children's homes were held in their archives. One said their archival holdings were small due to a lack of storage space, indicating that most of their pre-1975 archives relating to the county council and the former burgh councils were held by the National Archives of Scotland. Another archivist said the minutes for their district council, in existence from 1975 to 1995, were held by their legal department.

One archivist said their archive didn't hold specific records relating to children's residential establishments although the archivist tried to locate this information from local authority departments without success. Another reported being "instructed to destroy all Senior Management team records in 2004". The archivist noted that all records after 1996 were on recycled paper and were unlikely to survive in the long-term. One archivist reported no knowledge of the use of any electronic storage systems. Archivists also reported that committee files pertaining to children's residential services weren't kept and that archivists were "not consulted in respect of widespread retention changes to [local authority] records".

One archivist reported that a local authority had appointed its first professional archivist in 1996 as the regional authority had chosen "not to make any archival provision. Consequently until 1996 the [current] archives had neither custody nor responsibility for these records". Before the formation of the current council in 1996, the city archives tried to address these issues with some success but the present archive held "almost no Education or Social Work records; the responsible departments choosing to make their own arrangements. We are however aware that a very considerable volume of records no longer survive." One archivist gave us a list of 82 children's homes and residential schools, but said their archives held very few records for these establishments.

Archivists reported that records might be held in unknown private storage companies subcontracted by departments; the Scottish Adoption Agency; National Archives of Scotland; health archives; university archives; the national libraries; Care Scotland and other health boards. One local authority archive holds records for a former orphanage. We were told:

"Some Archive records are held elsewhere in Libraries and Museums, or still with the Service that created them. (The Town Council records for the [current council] are held in [x] University Library.

"The records of the [x] Orphanage…are held at [x] Museum. The collection includes lists of children in the orphanage, trustees minutes, inventories, correspondence, and accounts, 1790s - 1980s.

"It is not possible to determine the contents of the archives relating to children's residential establishments. The archives are only partially listed, and while items such as the main minute books are mostly identified and available, the wider scope of records are not so accessible, or readily identifiable. Items may still be in the possession of the individual homes."

One archivist reported that their archival records "…mainly contain correspondence and product sales literature regarding the ordering of equipment" for children's residential establishments. According to the archivist, the records included some information about children's homes. One archivist indicated that their archive held records such as "…a register of punishment for the period 1919-1977, relating to certain residential school and reference to a register of [x schools] for the period1964-1968 as being in the possession of the headmaster at the school".

"There is very little within the records we hold… We do not hold any Social Work client files or registers here at the Archive Centre…certain files can be identified but it is not possible to state these are the only records, as they only reflect those transferred..."

The archivists identified that the search for information relating to children's residential establishments relied on clear naming and listing of records. They said that, in some instances, the records made very vague references to their contents.

They made particular remarks about records management.

The archivists said that not all local authorities had records managers in post or records management systems. Some archivists reported that "individual departments are responsible for managing and storing their own records". The "…archive service currently provides records management storage for some [emphasis added] council departments …" Archivists said that various departments made their own arrangements for past and current records. Some archivists said they provided guidance and advice to council departments on how to manage their records.

Some archivists reported that their law and administration council section was evaluating records management procedures. Other archivists stated that "…records management is dealt with by the council's standards and compliance unit" and, within some local authorities, the social work department does their own records management.

Conclusion

We relied on information located within records held by voluntary organisations, religious organisations and local authorities to fulfil our remit. Our information-gathering process shows how difficult, if not impossible, it is to gain insights into systemic factors contributing to children's abuse within residential establishments without the existence of records. In general, our search for information revealed that local authorities, voluntary organisations and religious organisations all faced similar challenges when trying to locate records, making accessibility difficult. We found that it was impossible to determine where all 'relevant' records for children's residential establishments are held, and this situation will remain until all significant records for children's residential services are identified, located and catalogued.

Locating records associated with children's residential services is an enormous and daunting task. We learned, for example, that management records relating to the same topic may be located in many locations. We also found that the lack of records in one location, for example, didn't mean that those records, or records relating to the same topic, don't exist. We discovered that many children's residential establishments changed function, ownership and closed, making the ownership of records, such as children's files and management records, and what happened to those records somewhat unclear. The local authorities, voluntary and religious organisations were reorganised or relocated, which led to massive uncertainty about what happened to records through transitions. Employees with corporate memory left their employment, taking their memory of where records are located with them.

When children left their residential placements, various unregulated approaches guided what happened to children's records. These approaches were complicated by the possible existence of several children's records for one child depending on what services were involved. Children's records may have existed within the children's residential establishments, local authority social work or children's departments, local authority education departments or education authorities, health boards and voluntary or religious organisations. For children placed outwith their own local authorities, it was reported that children's records returned to the child's originating authority and were dispersed to central offices. It's not clear what happened to the records of Scottish children placed in children's residential establishments in England.

Our information gathering, however, depended upon organisations and local authorities having located and identified all "relevant" records together with their ability to make those records immediately accessible. As our search for information shows, two large government reorganisations, major legislative changes and changes within organisations throughout a 45 year period led to challenges in the search for information:

  • Poor records management practices in the past mean that records are missing, have been destroyed or were not generated in the first instance.
  • Corporate memory was held by individuals who have retired or died.
  • There was no legislation requiring sound records management, such as schedules of records that had been retained and destroyed.
  • Organisations have changed locations or experienced fires or floods, causing damage to records.
  • Children's residential establishments closed or changed management and their records locations are unknown.
  • Few general records are easily accessible and specific to children's residential services.
  • The labelling of records is poor and the records' catalogues inadequate.
  • It was very time-consuming and costly to search for information.

A number of voluntary and religious organisations, while committed to better records management, lacked, and continue to lack, a proper records management system and full-time archivists. Not all local authorities currently employ archivists and records managers and some did not adequately support their existing archival services.

Voluntary organisations, religious organisations and local authorities found it difficult, and at times impossible, to respond to our queries about past management policies and practices, including policies that relate to monitoring children's well-being and keeping children safe. For those organisations and local authorities that did respond, the information they provided suggests that records have become increasingly relied upon for monitoring children's safety, promoting their well-being and evaluating the quality of services provided to children.

The poor overall state of records, however, raises important issues about how voluntary organisations, religious organisations and local authorities that provided children's residential services are held accountable to children, former residents and others, for the services they provided.

Chapter 8: Concluding remarks

We depended upon records to gain insights into past experiences within children's residential services and, in doing so, we learned invaluable lessons about records associated with children's residential establishments and children's services in general. We've identified reasons why records are important, to whom and for what reasons. We've developed awareness about the many challenges facing individuals who seek and work with records. And, we now recognise the significant costs - personal, historical, and social - for survivors of institutional child abuse, others who lived in children's residential establishments and society when records cannot be located and accessed. There are economic benefits to proper records management - now and in the future. For children living away from home and in state care today, records are essential for monitoring their safety, promoting their well-being and holding children's services accountable for what they offer children.

Poor recording keeping practices have, and continue to have, many implications:

  • This review experienced difficulty in addressing its remit due to the poor state of records associated with children's residential services. Future inquiries 124 will also be affected unless proper records management practices are universally adopted;
  • Challenges exist for local and central government, religious organisations and voluntary organisations needing to respond to inquiries about past management policy and practices;
  • Former residents of children's residential establishments may be unable to realise their legal entitlements to access personal information and information about children's residential services;
  • Individuals may be denied access to justice that depends upon the collaboration of records;
  • It is difficult to develop a full historical account of children's residential services in Scotland without records;
  • There are risks to children in care today as records play an essential role in monitoring children's safety and well-being;
  • There is the potential lack of accountability by organisations and government who are responsible for their services to children;
  • Future research that could contribute to a better understanding of Scotland's social history may be hindered.

The establishment of 'historical accounts', in particular, is important to former residents. Records play a critical role in establishing accounts about what happened in children's residential establishments throughout Scotland and what contributed to children's abuse. Records may complement the oral histories of people who lived in children's residential establishments and those who worked in children's services. Records add to our understanding about how those establishments, and children's services in general, are situated within Scotland's wider social fabric.

Records are vital to ensuring '…that past experiences and lessons are not lost'. It was within the spirit of learning lessons that this report was written. From the knowledge we have gained, we would like to encourage all those individuals who found it difficult to place importance on records to learn more about records - to see beyond records as administrative inconveniences to how records connect to the humanity of children living away from home and in state care. Records have significance beyond the immediate, they have importance in perpetuity.

We are extremely grateful to former residents for their sharing their expertise and their experiences about records, as it was apparent that their contributions were accompanied by an emotional cost to them. We appreciate, as well, the support, enthusiasm and passion shared by many people who believe in the importance of preserving records that allow us to better understand people's experiences, the provision of children's residential services and their interrelationship with Scotland's social history. Lessons that we learn from records allow us to better meet the needs of children living away from home and in state care today.

It is not too late to make important changes to address critical and outstanding issues identified within the report.

References

Archive Services in Scotland Mapping Project Board (2000). An Archival Account of Scotland, Public and Private Sector Archive Services in Scotland: Funding Opportunities and Development Needs Report.
See at: http://www.archives.org.uk/sca/anarchiv.pdf

Barter, Christine; Abuse of Children in Residential Care; NSPCC Information Briefings; 2003; available from www.nspcc.org.uk/infom accessed on 31.10.2007

Bichard Inquiry Report (2004). House of Commons. London: The Stationary Office.
See at: http://www.bichardinquiry.org.uk/report/

Elsley, Susan (2007). Attitudes to children and social policy changes. Literature review prepared for Historical Abuse Systemic Review.

House of Commons: The British Parliament Select Committee on Health - Third Report (1998). The Welfare of Former British Child Migrants.
See at: http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199798/cmselect/cmhealth/755/75502.htm

Imrie, John, "The modern Scottish Record Office", Scottish Historical Review 53 (1974), 198-9, 201, 202, 205-6, as cited in Hector L MacQueen, "Reform of Archival Legislation: a Scots Perspective" Journal of the Society of Archivists vol 26 (2005) 201-214.

Law Commission of Canada (1998). Institutional Child Abuse Research Paper.
Available at www.lcc.gc.ca/research_project/98_abuse_3-en.asp accessed on 01.09.2007

MacQueen, H.L. (2005). Reform of Archival Legislation: a Scots Perspective" Journal of the Society of Archivists vol 26. pp 201-214.

Parliament of Senate (2001). Lost Innocents: Righting the Record - Report on child migration.
See at: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/clac_ctte/completed_inquiries/1999-02/child_migrat/report/index.htm

Parliament of Australia Senate (2004) Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children.
See at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/clac_ctte/inst_care/report/

Scotland on Sunday; September 9 2007; Files Put Faces To Millions; Annette Young.

Scottish Information Commissioner and National Archives of Scotland (2003). Code of Practice on Records Management.
See at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/1066/0003775.pdf

Scottish Information Commissioner (2005). Examination of the Scottish Executive Education's Procedures for the Identification and Provision of Access to Records related to Children's Homes and Residential Schools.
http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/home/ScottishInformationCommissioner.asp

Scottish Government (2003). The Scottish Public Records Strategy.
See at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/FOI/18593/13851

Sen, R., Kendrick, A., Milligan, I., Hawthorn, M. (2007). Historical Abuse in Residential Child Care in Scotland 1950 - 1995: A Literature Review. Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care, University of Strathclyde.

Skinner, A. (1992). Another Kind of Home. Edinburgh: The Scottish Office.

Social Work Inspection Agency (2005). An Inspection into the Care and Protection of Children in Eilean Siar. Scottish Executive.
See at: http://www.swia.gov.uk.

Stein, M. (2006). Missing years of abuse in children's homes. Child and Family Social Work 2006, 11, pp 11-21.

Appendices

Appendix A Children's Residential Homes - Related Terms
Appendix B Possible Record Locations
Appendix C Possible Record Types
Appendix D Survivors' Organisation Submission (why records are important)
Appendix E Survivors' Organisation Submission (challenges with records)
Appendix F Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance Excerpt: Statements and Functions
Appendix G Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance Excerpt: Personal Records
Appendix H Code of Practice on Records Management (2003) Excerpt
Appendix I Local Authorities: Challenges to Locating Records
Appendix J Submission: Individual Former Resident's Recommendations
Appendix K Submission: Survivor Organisation's Recommendations

Appendices D, E, J and K present information submitted by survivors. They contain the comments and opinions of the authors and not those of the review.

Appendix A Children's residential establishments 1950-1995 Examples of related terms

Schools

1. List D schools
2. Residential special schools
3. Independent schools for children with functional difficulties and special needs
4. Approved schools
5. Boarding schools
6. Residential schools
7. List G schools

Children's homes

1. General care long & short term
2. Remand homes
3. Assessment centres
4. Reception homes/centres for emergency and short term care
5. Home for children nearing independence
6. Boys home
7. Children's home
8. Home for maladjusted children
9. Day and residential resource centre
10. Residential child care unit
11. Voluntary home/ working boys' home
12. Home for girls under a court order
13. Voluntary girls training home/ hostel
14. Teenage short stay refuge
15. Children's unit
16. Orphanage
17. Residential and outreach resource
18. Young persons unit
19. Young people's units
20. Children's shelter
21. Residential unit
22. Long term home
23. Short stay home
24. Teenage transitional unit
25. Widower's children's homes

Residential Places for Children with Special Needs

1. Special care homes and schools for children with functional difficulties and special needs
2. Homes for 'mentally handicapped'
3. Intermediate treatment homes for children requiring short training and supervision away from home
4. Residential homes for young people with complex physical and learning disabilities
5. Respite resources for children with disabilities
6. Residential respite units for children with severe learning difficulties

Secure accommodation
Probation home
Family group homes
Holiday homes

Hostels

1. Hostels with care and supervision.
2. Children's hostels
3. Voluntary home/ working boys' home or hostel
4. Youth hostel
5. Hostel for homeless young women
6. Hostels with care and supervision generally for older children who cannot follow normal family life
7. Voluntary girls training home/ hostel
8. Hostel for mothers with children and children and babies in need of fostering
9. Hostels for working children
10. Probation hostel

Appendix B Children's residential services: Possible records locations

Basements and other storage areas
Children's residential establishments
Individual possession
Local authority departments: Social work, education, legal
Local authority archives
Local authority councils (general locations)
Local authority libraries
Local history societies
National Archives of Scotland
National Library of Scotland
Museums
Placing agencies
Local authority education committees, regional hospital boards, educational authorities, juvenile courts, local authorities children's departments, national child care committees (associated with religious organisations).
Private storage facilities 125
Professional associations' archives
Property departments
Regional NHS health boards
Religious organisations (Scotland and England)
Central offices, religious organisation archives, university archives, provincial houses, diocese and archdiocese archives
Scottish Government education, health, legal services departments
Scottish Government Library
Scottish Mental Health Office
Specialist libraries
Solicitors' offices
University archives (Scotland and England)
Voluntary organisations (Scotland and England)
Organisation archives, university archives
Unknown and undisclosed locations 126

Appendix C127Children's residential services: Possible records

Voluntary organisation records
Abstract of accounts
Admission books/papers
Annual reports
Artefacts
Children's records
Cottage industrial school punishment registers
Family counsellor files
Industrial schools society minute books
Institution minute books
Letters
Log books
Minute book of general committee
Narratives of fact
Orphanage, logbooks and admission registers
Orphanage applications
Orphanage minute books
Orphanage magazines
Papers concerning closure
Residential school log books
Residential school admission registers
Residential school admission registers
Registers of staff
Review reports
Society minute books
Visual material (photographs, films, videotapes)
Working boys' home minute books

Religious organisations

Accident books
Account books
After-care records
Audit reports
Children's records
Children's registers (name, DOB, parents, baptism etc)
Council minute books
Desk diaries
General management records
Handbooks
House meeting reports
Individual children's records
Inspection reports
Letters
Log books
Managerial reports
Meal books
Memoranda
Minutes of manager meetings
Observation records
Photographs
Policy and practise papers/guidelines/statements
Punishment books
Record books
Register of admissions/discharges
Register of cooperators and benefactors
Rules of punishment
School logs
Staffing records
Visitor books/logs
Visitation reports
Whistleblowing reports

Local authorities: General

Action plans (resulting from reports)
Annual reports
Applications for admittance to children's homes
Audit reports
Care plan reviews
Cash books
Child abuse registers
Child protection reports
Children and young people admitted to care registers
Children's committee member reports
Children's department records
Children's director reports
Children's officer reports
Circulars
Committee reports to councils
Department reports
Donations and gifts records
General management and policy records
General social welfare registers
Health authority records
Immunisation records
Incident report records
Individual residential services provider records
Individual children's records
Inspection reports (children's residential establishments or departments)
Investigation reports
Ledgers for children's homes that show when children were placed in or discharged from residential establishments
Log books
Medical reports
Medical officer reports
Minutes of council meetings
Minutes of council children's committee meetings
Minutes of council committee meetings
Minutes of professional associations meetings e.g. Approved school managers and educational psychologists
Organisational/structural reviews
Papers on closure of establishments
Papers relating to children's hearings
Photographs and memorabilia
Pocket money registers
Policy and strategy papers
Punishment books
Punishment returns
Register of clothing given to children
Register of guardians
Register of presents given to children
Reports on residential establishments
Reports on local authority departments
Senior management reports
Some policy and practice guidelines
Special reports
Staff registers
Visitor books

Local authorities: Archives

Corporate records
Records - Poor Relief and 'care issues'
Parochial boards and parish councils records
Former burgh records
Town council minutes
Town council committee files
Parish council files

County council

County council minutes
Minutes of children's committees
County clerk's correspondence files re: 'setting up child care establishments'
County council children's panel advisory committee reports
County council children's officer annual reports
County council index to social work cases
Sub-committee education reports
County council residential education institutions: financial records and annual reports
Social work committee papers
Education committee minutes
Children's committee minutes
Reports and notes from committees
Health circulars
Minutes of the County Council, Committees and Sub-Committees
Subject files of County Council (Children's Officer/Social Work Department)
Minute books with general references to childcare

Corporation records

Annual Reports (Children's department)
Annual Reports (Education department)
Education department file on residential schools
Social Work journal for residential services
Education ie file on residential schools for children with mental disabilities
Reports to children's committees
Report on use of remand homes for pre-trial investigations
Residential special schools records
Residential school records ie teaching staff
HM inspectors of schools reports
Correspondence file on residential education
Correspondence on residential schools for children
with mental disabilities
Residential special school statistics
Review of children's department: Organisation & methods
Review of social work department
City corporation records

District Council

District Council Minutes
District sub-committee minutes
District council committee papers
District files ie Questions of management: Residential Homes for Children

Division Records

Residential homes
Social work records ie Social needs and social work resources
Overview of Division Social Work record ie Social Needs and Social Work Reports
Social work department correspondence on Children's Act 1975
Social work department ie List D hearings and headquarter meetings
Draft reports re: social needs and social work resources
Restructuring of social work department record
Questions of management of residential homes for children report
Child care section record
Child Care Act 1975 record
Residential homes record
Social work group for children records
Child care review group records
Correspondence on national children's homes

Regional councils

Regional council minutes
Committee papers for regional councils, including major reports
Records for regional council and predecessor authorities and of businesses, families and organizations within [the council area]
Social work file on council children's centres and homes
Law and administration department social work records
Annual reports for child guidance service
Social work committee officer/member group child care reports
Social work committee officer/member group general reports
Records on registration of residential establishments
Child guidance service annual reports
Files on registration of residential establishments
Social Work Committee Officer/Member Group reports on child care
Social Work file on residential establishments
Social Work official opening of establishments (residential and daycare) report
Social Work - practice guidelines for residential workers
Social Work - working party reports on residential care matters
Children's residential establishment registration records

General records

NHS records
Family and estate collections
Business archives
Church records
Solicitor records
Records of societies and associations
Social work department files
Education department files
Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 ie setting up social work department
Records 'deposited by other organizations and individuals'
Committee papers (including major reports)
Mental Welfare Register - names, addresses, dates, tick columns regarding 'mental illness' and 'mental deficiency'
Certificates with name of child, information of who/where child received from.
Visiting committee reports
Fieldwork and general services sub-committee minutes
Legislation relating to children

Reports

Corporation annual reports, children
Corporation annual reports, education
Alternatives to Substitute Care, Adoption, Fostering and After Care; Quality of Substitute Residential Care: Towards a Social Policy for Children
Report by Director of Social Work on Residential Child Care
Report by Children's Officer. Costs of prevention following the act
Annual Report of the County Medical Officer
'The Residential Story: A possible approach for teachers in special schools'
"Residential Child Care Strategy for the Eighties: Home or Away?"
Response to Home and Away
Report by the Needs and Resources Group on the Form and Content of the 1982 Report
Social Work department - Social Needs and Social Work Resources amended reports

Specific records

One local authority social work department holds various records related to children's residential establishments going back to 1953 and holds a register of children boarded out, for example, between 1959-1978, 1966-1974 and placements made 1958-1985 and 1972-1995. This local authority also has a register for children in foster homes 128.

Children's residential establishments (local government records)

Children's separate register
Minutes of House Committee of children's home
Records for:

  • children's home for "mentally disabled"
  • boarded-out children
  • family group home
  • special school
  • children's home

Accident reports
Residential nursery records - admissions and discharges
General records for farm school accession, including a visitors book.

Children's residential establishments (generated on-site)

Admission register
Attendance registers and summaries
Application forms for post of houseparents
Applications for admittance
Cash book and pocket money register
Correspondence files
Diaries
Daybooks
Education files
General files
Incidents files
Log books
Memorabilia
Minutes, photographs, videos
Night diary
Night logbooks
Pupil testing materials
Photographs
Postcards
Register of students
Register of admission and discharge
Register of attendance
Report books
Visitors books

Appendix D Survivor's organisation submission

A survivors' organisation, representing the views of adults abused as children in residential establishments, submitted the following information to the Historical Abuse Systemic Review about why records are important to them:

1. "Many children who were in-care are not aware even today the possible reasons and circumstances why they were put into care. It is a record of particular importance to a group
of vulnerable adults."

2. "In some cases care organisations and its employees…were not truthful in providing the factual and actual reasons and circumstances why a particular child was in its care at the time."

3. "Former children have gained this information concerning their families and other circumstances previously withheld from them as children in-care which is different to what they had been initially informed i.e. That they were an orphan yet years later in some cases 30 odd years + later after they have left the home they were to learn that in fact they had parents & siblings and were in fact not an Orphan. In many cases these siblings and parents were still alive. Also in a few cases parents had remarried and so had other children."

4. "It is perhaps the only record that may exist for that particular individual and as such holds particular importance to former children who are now adults."

5. "It is perhaps the only record that may assist in tracing other members of a family such as siblings and parents that they were unaware existed if the care organisation had not informed them."

6. "The Historical records may be of particular importance in assisting to prosecute the law with regards to allegations being made by former children. They can be part of a trail in establishing the truth."

7. "If the Historical records are inaccurate or not complete it raises serious concerns and issues for all parties especially so in prosecuting the law. It begs the Question WHY are they not accurate or complete."

8. "For ex-employees of institutions it may help verify accurately their view and uphold accounts of a child's time in-care and may support the case that abuse did not in fact take place or otherwise if the records are a true and accurate account."

9. "For children in care it may reinforce the case that abuse took place or otherwise."

10. "In some cases we understand that Historical case records which are not complete or inaccurate may not in fact be of no or little value to the Police authorities investigation allegations of historical misconduct or abuse."

11. "In other cases the records may contain references to police reports or issues pertaining to the police visits or contacts with the care home such as when former children absconded from its care at the time."

The survivors' organisation also identified the types of records it considers important to people who lived as children in children's residential establishments. The submission states that "…all Historical records should have been kept in there entirety by all care institutions and other such entities and are all relevant".

''These historical children's records are protected in LAW and as such should have been treated accordingly down the generations by all institutions and care organisations regardless and in that priority with regards collating, archiving, retention and storage of all files and records held by all institutional & organisations. Legislation and relevant children's Acts were in place to protect children in care such 1948 Children's Act and other such legislation. Policies within care institutions should have reflected and abided by this legislation and the relevant Children's Acts.''

''Given that Institutional organisations such as [a particular children's home] have not retained ALL relevant records of a particular child. The following in our view are of particular importance and extremely relevant in providing a record and accurate account of a child's time in-care. We do not list these in and particular importance order and this list in not exhaustive.''

1. "Medical records/history and all medical entries concerning each individual child while in-care in [children's home]. Immunisation and admissions to hospital."

2. "All previous family history and why a child was placed in care. Throughout the process."

3. "All School records/reports."

4. "All recorded entries by all the care employees. (In chronology of date within each Institution or within that organisation such as different households within an organisation date of entry and exit.)"

5. "All Social work or-Welfare records pertaining to the child in-care and their immediate family and siblings before and during in-care. Entered into all records."

6. "All visits by outside investigative bodies or individuals sent. All other visits."

7. "Audit trail of Social work-Welfare dept within all care organisations. Any and all Access given to Children's files by employees and senior management and why (signed and dated)."

8. "All police visits and reports concerning children absconding etc."

Appendix E Survivor's organisation submission

A survivor's organisation, representing the views of adults abused as children in residential establishments, made the following submission to the Historical Abuse Systemic Review about former residents' experiences with locating and accessing records.

1. "Local Authority records are particularly difficult to locate as there has been numerous changes in structures down the years such as [local council]. These records are stored and retained at various area control social work centres across Scotland such in my own case [town in Scotland]."

2. "In my own case there were five [name] siblings all in-care through [city council social work dept] yet there are no files or records for any of us. Despite me taking up the issues concerning my siblings files and my own directly with [name] the director of Social work, [city council]."

3. "There appears to be no sense of urgency by the Local Authority to help locate files/records of a historical nature for Survivors. As in my particular case no one wrote back to me until I raised the issue again despite filling out the relevant form it took a year for a formal response and another to inform me that there was no records or files."

4. "To date there are no [city council] Social work records for any of the [name] siblings despite the fact that I was able to provide them with documentation from my [name] children's file with regards correspondence written at the time by a [city council] Social worker at the [city council] with regards my family and admissions into [children's home]."

5. "[Children's home] current staff are insensitive about the needs and issues of former children who request their records or files especially those involved in the recent court cases. We also have others former children who have made this claim to us."

6. "The current [children's home] organisation and management is more concerned about limiting any fallout or potential complaint from those requesting their records. The current system is purely designed and there to minimise the issues and keep a tight lid on them. It's a typical stance by [children's home] to be fully in control of all the issues."

7. "Current [children's home] employees (aftercare workers) are making disparaging comments concerning other children who have had their cases upheld in the Courts to other former residents verbally and in emails. (we can provide the emails and testimony to the systemic review team)."

What works for people who want to locate and access their Historical records files.

1. "That it is provided within the time allowed for in Law which is 40 days under the Data Protection Act 1998 all care institutions and organisations should abide fully by the law."

2. "That the process is explained fully in writing to the applicant (former resident) when they first make contact with the former care home, organisation or Local Authority including any costs."

3. "That it is done independently outwith the organisation i.e. another social work dept and former children are offered independent support and help such as counselling provided and offered beforehand. As in our experience for many former children it can be very traumatic experience when they access their past histories and records for the first time ever in many cases."

Appendix F Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance, Children Looked After by Local Authorities, Volume 2, Chapter 4 (residential care): Excerpt

Personal records

50. The managers in consultation with the person in charge should ensure that all necessary records, including where necessary health particulars, are maintained in respect of each child accommodated in the establishment. A child's personal record provides a common understanding of the plan for him or her, arrangements made, agreements and decisions which have been reached and the reasons for them. It also enables the implementation of planning decisions to be kept under review.

51. The record should include all the information about family history, involvement with the authority and progress which is set out in guidance on children who are looked after by a local authority. The record maintained by the residential establishment should include:

  • date of the placement
  • the supervision requirement or provision by reference to which the placement was made
  • the views of the child and his or her parents about the placement
  • reasons for the placement
  • persons notified about the placement
  • reports of visits by the child's social worker
  • date of termination of the placement
  • reasons for ending the placement
  • persons notified about the termination of the placement
  • arrangements for providing the child with continuing support.

52. Personal records should be comprehensive and up-to-date. They should also include cross-references to other records where more detailed information is held. Records should be checked regularly by the person in charge of the establishment. In addition they should be accessible to the responsible social worker. Arrangements for access to personal records by children under sixteen have been modified by the Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991 as explained in the guidance on children looked after by a local authority.

53. The managers in consultation with the person in charge of the establishment should ensure that a log book is maintained of day-to-day events, particularly concerns about individual children. References to individual children entered in this log will be detailed in personal records. In addition other entries such as the use of measures of control, complaints or accidents will be entered in separate logs dedicated to those respective purposes. In order to avoid unnecessary duplication and to facilitate rapid access it is helpful if entries in different logs about the same event are cross-referenced. 129

The regulations and guidance for the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 make certain provisions relating to records for secure accommodation.

9. The managers, in consultation with the person in charge of the secure establishment in which the child is placed, must keep a record of the child's placement in such accommodation. This should clearly distinguish between placement in secure accommodation and placement in open accommodation in the same establishment. The record must include

  • the child's full name, sex and date of birth
  • the supervision requirement, order or provision by reference to which the placement was made
  • the date and time of the placement, reasons for and persons authorising the placement, and the child's previous address
  • the name and address of each person notified about the placement
  • the outcomes of the placement
  • the date and time of the child's discharge, the name of the person authorising his or her discharge and his or her subsequent address.

These records should be available for inspection by the Secretary of State and, where relevant, by the local inspection unit.

10. Good practice would require that the following information is also recorded

  • characteristics of the child
  • previous involvement of the local authority
  • reasons for admission
  • assessment of needs, with reference to development, education and health, and behaviour
  • care plan and programmes of intervention
  • summary notes of medical examinations, ongoing health problems, routine medication, diagnosis and treatment for episodes of acute injury or illness, referral to specialists
  • psychological and psychiatric reports
  • accidents
  • education reports
  • social work reports
  • mobility and leave arrangements
  • complaints and their outcome
  • use of measures of control (including the use of a single locked room)
  • arrangements for throughcare and aftercare
  • reasons for discharge
  • place to which discharged.

Appendix G Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance, Children Looked After by Local Authorities, Volume 2, Chapter 4 (Residential Care): Excerpt

Annex: Statement of functions and objectives should detail the following arrangements for children's residential establishments:

  • providing information about life in the establishment to children and parents prior to admission or as soon as possible following admission
  • defining the child's rights and responsibilities
  • identifying appropriate relationships between children and staff
  • taking account of the needs, including any special needs, and wishes of each child
  • safeguarding the physical care of children
  • education and healthcare, including the provision of a healthy lifestyle
  • assisting each child to develop their potential
  • involving children and parents in decisions about the child's future
  • reviewing and evaluating the support and development of children within the establishment
  • ensuring that each child's religious persuasion, racial origins, cultural and linguistic background are given proper regard
  • sanctions relating to the control of children
  • protecting children
  • dealing with unauthorised absences
  • involving children in decisions about daily living
  • creating opportunities for children to use local community facilities
  • dealing with complaints from children and parents
  • record keeping
  • visits by relatives and friends
  • recruiting, supervising and training staff
  • deploying and using staff to fulfil the responsibilities of the establishment effectively and efficiently
  • fire precautions and alarm tests
  • meeting health and safety requirements
  • throughcare, including aftercare
  • consulting children and staff in preparing and reviewing the statement of functions and objectives
  • identifying the functions and role of external managers.

Appendix H Code of Practice on Records Management (2003) Excerpt130

What is records management?

Records management is the systematic control of an organisation's records, throughout their life cycle, in order to meet operational business needs, statutory and fiscal requirements, and community expectations. Effective management of corporate information allows fast, accurate and reliable access to records, ensuring the timely destruction of redundant information and the identification and protection of vital and historically important records.

Why is records management necessary?

Information is every organisation's most basic and essential asset, and in common with any other business asset, recorded information requires effective management. Records management ensures information can be accessed easily, can be destroyed routinely when no longer needed, and enables organisations not only to function on a day to day basis, but also to fulfil legal and financial requirements. The preservation of the records of government for example, ensures it can be held accountable for its actions, that society can trace the evolution of policy in historical terms, and allows access to an important resource for future decision making.

Legislation is increasingly underlining the importance of good records management, in addition to being sound business practice. Compliance with Acts such as Freedom of Information and Data Protection is underpinned by effective records management: without properly organised and retrievable records, requests for information governed by statutory response timescales will be impossible to service. Indeed, section 61 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 is the 'Code of practice as to the keeping, management and destruction of records'.

Organisations are also producing increasingly large amounts of information and consequently greater volumes of records, in both paper and electronic form. It is essential that information is captured, managed and preserved in an organised system that maintains its integrity and authenticity. Records management facilitates control over the volume of records produced through the use of disposal schedules, which detail the time period for which different types of record should be retained by an organisation.

The growth in electronic communications and data, from emails to databases, presents new challenges, but can be managed by the same records management principles that are applied to paper documents. Sound records management is also an essential basis for the transition to EDRM (Electronic Document and Records Management) that many organisations are embracing. In the public sector this has been driven in part by E-government targets, where public services are to be made available electronically. Where existing paper based systems are poorly managed, current problems will simply be migrated to a new electronic system unless they are addressed in the preparations for EDRM.

Modern society has rising expectations concerning the accessibility of information. People now expect efficient and speedy responses to requests for information, and a policy of 'open government' has been followed and developed by several successive governments.

The benefits of records management

Systematic management of records allows organisations to:

  • know what records they have, and locate them easily
  • increase efficiency and effectiveness
  • make savings in administration costs, both in staff time and storage
  • support decision making
  • be accountable
  • achieve business objectives and targets
  • provide continuity in the event of a disaster
  • meet legislative and regulatory requirements, particularly as laid down by the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act and the Data Protection Act
  • protect the interests of employees, clients and stakeholders

Records management offers tangible benefits to organisations, from economic good practice in reducing storage costs of documents, to enabling legislative requirements to be met. An unmanaged record system makes the performance of duties more difficult, costs organisations time, money and resources, and makes them vulnerable to security breaches, prosecution and embarrassment. In an unmanaged records environment, up to 10% of staff time is spent looking for information.

The dangers of corrupted records management have been illustrated in recent years through scandals such as those at Enron in the USA, which involved the destruction of vital records. Poor records management, with the unintentional loss of documents, has caused embarrassment to organisations from government departments to small businesses.

The importance of records can be put in context by events in South Africa where records of the proceedings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's hearing against President Botha about his actions during the period of apartheid have been destroyed, and therefore details of this historically important event lost forever in their original form.

The principles of good records management

The guiding principle of records management is to ensure that information is available when and where it is needed, in an organised and efficient manner, and in a well maintained environment. Organisations must ensure that their records are:

Authentic

It must be possible to prove that records are what they purport to be and who created them, by keeping a record of their management through time. Where information is later added to an existing document within a record, the added information must be signed and dated. With electronic records, changes and additions must be identifiable through audit trails.

Accurate

Records must accurately reflect the transactions that they document.

Accessible

Records must be readily available when needed.

Complete

Records must be sufficient in content, context and structure to reconstruct the relevant activities and transactions that they document.

Comprehensive

Records must document the complete range of an organisation's business.

Compliant

Records must comply with any record keeping requirements resulting from legislation, audit rules and other relevant regulations.

Effective

Records must be maintained for specific purposes and the information contained in them must meet those purposes. Records will be identified and linked to the business process
to which they are related.

Secure

Records must be securely maintained to prevent unauthorised access, alteration, damage or removal. They must be stored in a secure environment, the degree of security reflecting the sensitivity and importance of the contents. Where records are migrated across changes in technology, the evidence preserved must remain authentic and accurate.

The definition of "document" and "record"

In records management it is important to be clear about the difference between a document and a record.

A document is any piece of written information in any form, produced or received by an organisation or person. It can include databases, website, email messages, word and excel files, letters, and memos. Some of these documents will be ephemeral or of very short-term value and should never end up in a records management system (such as invitations to lunch).

Some documents will need to be kept as evidence of business transactions, routine activities or as a result of legal obligations, such as policy documents. These should be placed into an official filing system and at this point, they become official records. In other words, all records start off as documents, but not all documents will ultimately become records.

Appendix I Local authorities: Challenges to locating records

The following summarises responses from local authorities about the challenges they faced when searching for information to inform the review's work:

1. There were ''difficulties of establishing the information required" due to the questionnaire's time period, which covers the "lifespan of four local authorities".

2. One local authority stated that '..the archive for [x] City Council can find no record of files relating to the Children's Officer for the former Corporation of [x]. Information relating to Social Work matters transferred to [y] Regional Council, when that body started its work. [y] Regional Council did not have an archive service for Social Work files (other than individual case files) and there was no centralised storage of information. When [y] Regional Council was abolished in 1996, no information which could be classed as centralised filing was transferred to [x] City Council, merely the personal case records of the service users for whom [x] City Council undertook responsibility. Any information that was retained from [y] Regional Council should, therefore, be in the [z] Council archive, although investigations have proved that this appears not to be the case.'

3. One local authority need to work '...on this (questionnaire) with colleagues in [x] City to jointly pull together as much information as we could."

4. The local authorities' reorganisation in 1996 means that one local authority doesn't have any information the review is requesting. '[The regional authority]... was divided up and children's files, for example, went to the district where the children lived...they aren't sure what happened to all the other files with the reorganisation. [s] Council may have retained a number of files that are archived in the office (as per structures and system) - for the old [t] Region. All the local authorities will have the same problem identifying whether the info exists and, if it does, where it's located.

5. One local authority stated they inherited policy and procedures, in 1996, which they have amended and altered to suit their smaller local authority. ... didn't think they kept any information about old policies and procedures as they made changes.

6. While expectations existed for record-keeping, often those expectations weren't met and there is nothing at all that exists in relation to residential establishments.

7. There's a voluntary agency in the local authority area that provided residential services to young people... they were approached by adults making claims of past residential historical abuse but no records exist or were found pertaining to the place where they lived.

8. One local authority used council minutes as a source of information about the opening and closure of Children's homes. The minutes also record the placement of children by the Education Department... it would appear that the care element at local authority level was not looked at all.

9. One local authority noted there were difficulties retrieving information from the archives. 'I would also make the initial comment that [q] City Archives transferred to [r] Archives and to [p] Archives all historical local government records which vested in them in April 1996. As lead authority it retains the signed copies of minutes from [o] Regional Council. It holds on deposit, for preservation, historical records of the [q] Orphan Institution, of which the successor body is the [n] Trust, and I will consult with the [n] Trust about any composite return that that Trust will send to you. [q] City Archives hold on deposit, for preservation, fragmentary records of the former two List D schools in [q]. As both the two institutions were wound up with no successor bodies and as the depositing agents... no longer have an office in [q], the ownership of these records is unclear. What is clear is that neither these two institutions nor their records actually vest into [q] City Council.'

10. Prior to reorganisation, the local authorities had a different structure, making it difficult to respond to the periods 1950-1969 and 1979-1985...for [ b] it may not be possible to tell where the records are, possibly the [t] (old regional) archives but is using the [c] archivist to assist...as to inspection records, doesn't know where they are.

11. One local authority stated they don't know where the other reports are located... maybe the [t] (old regional) archives... other reports should be located i.e. maybe... some other organisation.

12. One local authority stated they wouldn't hold historical individual files in the social work dept, if they are 'dead' (files) the 'degree of sophistication' of the local archivists will determine as to what happens to them.

13. One local authority stated have no records in the archives... (our contact) is not aware of any case files held by Social Work, but will check that there aren't any which were transferred at reorganisation but have since been overlooked.

14. One local authority made reference to three major administration changes; the first administration operated 1950-1975, the second between 1975-1995 and the current between 1995-Present. 'There is nothing in our council's archives relating to children's homes/units in the current [d] Area…Any records for these establishments may be held in the former[t](old regional) archives, alternatively it is possible these establishments were run by church or voluntary organisations who may have records.'

15. '...the retention of detailed records in regard to policy and procedures was patchy for the period you are interested in and also with the change in Local Authority boundaries different decisions would have been made about the culling of records.' ... individual files from the 1930's onwards are held in their archive but states '...the further back you go the records are likely to be less detailed' When asked if there are any management records for children's residential establishments which remain open and pre-date 1996, the response was 'not to my knowledge.'

16. '...for the period 1950-1969…it does not appear that other records pertaining to these establishments have been retained and I cannot, therefore, provide the detailed information that you are looking for in sections 2, 3 and 4 of your questionnaire. It is, therefore, difficult to confirm what management and other records or systems would have been in place during the period… For the period 1970-1985, there are formal records of Council Committees. However, as above, it does not appear that other records pertaining to sections 2, 3 and 4 of your questionnaire have been retained… For the period 1986-1995…as with the other records time periods noted above, it does not appear that other general management records pertaining to sections 2, 3 and 4 of your questionnaire have been retained…There are some general records held within our archives section that may provide some information on the areas mentioned in your questionnaire, however, these are not archived in a format that would be easily accessed.'

17. '...social work did not have a broad record retention policy until recently so many management records, for example, may have been held for 10 years after the residential home closure and then destroyed…there was no legal requirement to keep them.'

18. One local authority stated they were trying to find information but there are few records from the earlier years…It is easier to locate info from 1974 onwards…legal advisors for the councils' are asking how councils are supposed to find information to respond to our questionnaire…can't find out what happened to the records when the district became a regional council…the council does not have an archive system…a lot of records were destroyed recently 'due to the 75 year cut-off'…

19. One local authority stated that '...it will take some time to gather the information [because] this local authority did not exist before 1996 and within the timescale, to which you refer…'

20. One local authority stated '...records relating to this period have been largely destroyed although some individual client files of children who lived in the Children's Homes still exist. However, anecdotal evidence gathered from present and past staff connected with the Home, allows me to confirm that no former resident has come back to us as an adult to make a claim of historical abuse.'

21. One local authority stated '...we have very limited material that can help you apart from having children's personnel records. There is some ancillary material relating to children such as Log Books, Register of Guardians, etc. which I have included on the questionnaire. We are currently investigating archived material and if we are successful in locating material of interest we will contact you again...the transfer of records at the time of handover from [f Regional Council] to [g Council] was very patchy.'

22. One local authority stated that '...even the identification of resources available from 1950 onwards would require a major investigation of archived material, with the likelihood that even if this was done the information would not necessarily be accurate.'

Appendix J Former resident submission

A former resident of a children's home submitted these recommendations to the Historical Abuse Systemic Review:

1. "Files for children in care need to be placed in a high security control bank, to be accessed only on the authority of former in care children. A board should be set up of qualified people with experience in child welfare with a Board chairperson to give the final authority if police or social services require access. The Board could be set up with a minimum of bureaucratic red tape but with a set of absolute criteria which has to be met before access is allowed."

2. "People today working with children in care should never be allowed background knowledge of the child; children's files have been the breakdown of the child care system. These are very sensitive documents and should be treated as such."

3. "Workers and supervisors need to be trained to understand that a 'child in care's records' is often the only connection that the child has to memories of family members and when files are lost or tampered with, so too are the memories and history of that child. Also at times whilst the child is in care they should be kept up to date when serious circumstances arise within their family."

4. "Where at all possible several weeks should be allowed before release so that trained professional can go over the child's records with him/her in a compassionate manner so that the child is aware of why he/she was placed in care, what the family circumstances were at that time. Where parents and siblings will be at the time of release and whether there will be a welcome for a child into an extended family. If not, why not, if the professional knows, the professional should be aware of all facts of that child's life and help the child be prepared for every facet of the new life. Time must be allowed for children to absorb details that if learned later in life could be devastating."

5. "Weeks before a child leaves care, a professional should cover everything in the child's record, such as things in the child's background the child should be familiar with. It should be emphasised that the child was no way at fault for being placed in care. If a child gets upset about information in their records, they need to understand that getting upset is a normal reaction to information about one's background and family. Preparing a child in a compassionate manner to deal with emotional issues is probably the best thing a child in care specialist can do."

Appendix K Survivor organisation submission

The following recommendations about records were submitted to the review by a survivor's organisation, representing the views of adults abused as children in residential establishments:

1. "That care organisations…respect that we are all adults now and can make informed choices for ourselves such as (we do not considerate or regard it appropriate for current [care organisation] employees to sit with you when you receive your file as they currently do in [a care organisation]. Many former children of [a care organisation] have raised concerns regards this current [care organisation's] practice."

2. "Clients should be given a choice about who they wish to help and support them. It's not for the organisation or the institution to decide, we are now adults with capacity and can make informed choices."

3. "Independent advocacy is required if there is any dispute raised with regards the record by any former child."

4. "Former children who have had convictions upheld against ex-employees in the Courts. These children's records/files are of particular sensitive nature and should be dealt with another independent organisation all together not the organisation where the former resident was abused."

5. "All records are protected in law and as such should be treated as such and stored, retained and accessible for former residents appropriately out with the care organisation to prevent contamination or tampering of records."

6. "All Historical records are dealt with by an Independent regulator who is governed under the full auspices of the Law."

7. "All access by any individual without exception is signed for and permission and consent sought from former children prior to facilitating access, except where it is required by law. Permission, access and consent should be at the heart of any policy concerning former children."

8. "Policies and procedures concerning Children's Confidential Files which are protected in law are enshrined in law and legislation enacted to re-enforce this position. (If necessary introduce legislation about what should be retained for the future) Organisations are independently regulated and audited accordingly if they retain control over historical records."

9. "The law as it currently stands allows for a note to be put on a file/record where there is a dispute concerning its accuracy under the Data Protection Act 1998."

10. "All organisations and institutions must facilitate this as part of the purposes for all former children or their legal representative if anyone wishes such a note placed in their record/file as permitted in law under the Data Protection Act 1998. This is especially so in the cases of ex-employees convicted of abusing that child. It is the only true and accurate record pertaining to that child, organisation and ex-employee."

11. "All children in-care are given a copy [of their file] when they leave an institution when they become eligible at 18 years old. And that this is signed for and that any support and help is provided such as counselling at this point also."

12. "No ex-employees are permitted to have access to records or files in any official or non-official capacity such as Archivist or any other such position voluntary or non-voluntary at any time once they have terminated their employment with the institution or care organisation. This will prevent possible interference, contamination and tampering of records and files."