Serious case reviews to be axed in child protection shakeup

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Serious case reviews are to be scrapped, the government has announced.


The inquiries, which deal with suspected abuse or neglect of children, will be replaced with a new system where reviews will either undertaken by a national panel or, in less serious cases, the local safeguarding children board (LCSB).

A new statutory framework will set out duties for local agencies, which will include a new requirement for councils, the police and the NHS to set up 'more robust and much clearer' multi-agency child protection arrangements. It also says 'schools and other relevant agencies involved in the protection of children' will be 'expected' to co-operate with the new arrangements.

The news follows the publication of the Wood Report in March into the role of safeguarding children boards, which called for ‘fundamental reform’.

LCSBs, which currently undertake SCRs, were criticised by author Alan Wood as ‘not sufficiently effective’.

Mr Wood’s report found evidence of ‘bureaucratic processes; too much timid inquiry at practitioner and system level; an unwillingness to challenge partners when they opt out of cooperating; and too much acceptance of less than good performance.’

He said, ‘Despite guidance to the contrary, the model of serious case reviews has not been able to overcome the suspicion that its main purpose is to find someone to blame. Although there has been some improvement in the quality of some reviews the general picture is not good enough and the lessons to be learned tend to be predictable, banal and repetitive.’

SCRs are instigated if abuse or neglect of a child is known or suspected. They are designed to learn lessons, improve intra-agency working and improve the safeguarding of children but have been criticised in the past for being inaccessible, lengthy, and overwhelming practitioners with too many recommendations.

The majority of SCRs - two-thirds - concern children under the age of five. According to the Wood report, more than 80% of child deaths are medical or health related, while 4% relate to child protection issues.

See our series on multi-agency working here

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