AS the ongoing Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is demonstrating, there are many adults who claim to have been abused in residential care, and a growing number of church, charity and state institutions that admit such abuse took place.

However the inquiry’s work is likely to be made more difficult by a lack of records of events at the time. Barnardo’s – which admitted it destroyed staff records as the residential units it ran closed down – and the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul are among the organisations that have said limited information is available.

What has always been unusual about Richard Tracey’s case is the completeness of the social work records from the period when he was being fostered by a large family in the early 1980s.

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These notes, mostly written by his social worker at the time, Hugh Quinn, show what appears to be a shockingly blase attitude to Richard’s suffering, when he was between 12 and 16.

The notes confirm that Richard was being “beaten up” by his foster father although the social worker said: “it is not in any way excessive”. The records note him getting a subsequent “leathering” from the man, George Tracey, and on another occasion requiring to be seen by his doctor after an assault. Both doctor and social worker concluded “the degree of the assault has not been serious”.

The notes also record indications of the compromised care Richard was getting from his foster mother, Charlotte Tracey, a heavy drinker who is described euphemistically as “befuddled” or “ill in bed”. Despite even Mrs Tracey warning Mr Quinn she feared one day her husband would “go over the score”, with Richard, on five occasions the records show the social worker suggesting social services withdraw and leave the family to their own devices.

On at least five occasions Richard asked to be taken into residential care to get away from the Traceys (he says it was a more or less a constant request) and on four occAsions he ran away. But his obvious distress and unhappiness is repeatedly dismissed and he is accused of inventing problems, exaggerating assaults, or “exploiting” incidents.

When Richard did raise the issue of the sexual abuse he says was being perpetrated on him by a family friend of the Traceys, a single note was made by Mr Quinn, who says he doesn’t know who is behind the claim: “A claim of sexual abuse has been made, it is not sure whether it is from the boy or his adoptive parents.” The notes never mention this again. When he was finally removed to Redbrae Children’s Home in Maybole, Richard was assaulted by a member of staff with a riding crop. The social worker dismissed that, adding: “everyone agreed that it should not have happened, regretted that it had and were aware that Richard could use the situation to further his own ends.”

Despite this documentation, Richard’s attempts to get action or answers with regard to what happened to him or to hold individuals or organisations to account have been frustrated. However, Mr Tracey has given written evidence to the child abuse inquiry and hopes to be called to appear in person.