Released On 22nd Apr 2021
Accessing your Care Records
Survivors who were sexually abused as children often grew up in difficult family circumstances, and frequently were put into care or fostered. Multi-disciplinary agencies including Social Services, doctors and the criminal justice system would have been involved, and the care system generated extensive amounts of documents.
Many years later those survivors rightly want access to their care records. Sometimes they simply want to learn more about what happened when they were too young to understand, but often, their care records can help to support a claim for compensation against their abuser. Obtaining those records can be a difficult and stressful exercise, though. At Robsonshaw we are frequently asked to obtain care records on behalf of survivor clients who want more information. For example:
- Mrs S was abused as a child and wanted to know whether the local authority knew about it. She also wanted to know what steps were taken to protect her.
- Mr D wanted to find out if anyone had been convicted or suspected of abuse against him in the past.
- Ms T was in foster care and abused by her foster parents. She wanted to know which local authority placed her in care.
Your right to access your care records
You have the right to care records that are about you personally, although in some cases, this can be refused if they would be likely to cause serious harm to you or someone else. You may also not be able to see information which would reveal the identity of an individual who has provided information about you in confidence to the authority.
The struggle for access
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (“IICSA”) held a series of road shows in 2019 for anyone who has struggled to access their childhood records. The IICSA learned about survivors' experiences accessing social care records, the impact of these experiences, and how to ensure victims and survivors have better experiences in the future.
Many survivors have also told IICSA’s Truth Project about the difficulties they have faced trying to access medical, care and social services records. Indeed, during its hearings IICSA has heard evidence of care records being lost, destroyed, hidden and changed. Here are a few quotes excerpts from survivors who participated in the project:
[They felt] "lost in a roundabout of systems, poking in the dark...there are no signposts. They know you will wear out before they do".
"It is not just a record or file, it is your past, your history, your life."
"The experience of being unable to control one’s own records...results in feeling as though there is no ownership of one’s own story.”
“If I had gotten my records, the prosecution would have been different.”
It was clear from tthe IICSA's findings that survivors want less red tape and easier access to information from all agencies for victims and survivors, including access to their personal records relating to their time at the institution(s) they were in.
How to get help
If you want to know more about accessing your care records, please call Robsonshaw for a free, confidential and no obligation chat. Ask for Samantha Robson or Robert Shaw on 01392 345332 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.