THE term 'shocking' doesn't even come close to describing the admission by Edinburgh City Council that children’s records were destroyed at a care home where teenage girls were sexually abused - though it is right that the local authority is now investigating the extent of the problem following the Sunday Herald investigation published today.

The practice of shredding files has serious implications for survivors of sexual abuse who are trying to piece together their past in order to obtain both justice and closure.

As it stands the local authority is unable to say whether this is an isolated case - therefore many victims will be rightly fearful that potential evidence from their traumatic childhood is gone for good.

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A Scottish Government-commissioned report published in 2007 found that senior council staff in Scotland routinely ordered the destruction of children’s records as recently as 2004, despite strict regulations stipulating that they must be retained for 100 years.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is well underway and more and more survivors are coming forward for the first time with horrific testimonies of abuse in care by people who were placed in a position of trust.

There is something chilling that amid the inquiry and its litany of horror we learn of documents being destroyed at care homes where children were sexually assaulted. Even though it is claimed the destruction was in error, one cannot escape the sense of something terrible having gone wrong.

If it emerges that councils are still systematically destroying children’s files ten years on from the damning Scottish Government report it raises serious questions about those who disregard regulations meant to protect the young and vulnerable.

If survivors are to see justice done they must be given access to vital evidence of their time in care. The message has to go out that remaining children’s records must be protected and preserved – and those who destroyed them must be held to account if they acted wilfully.