Dan Peters 11 November 2013

Serious Case Reviews

What is a Serious Care Review?

The undertaking of a Serious Case Review (SCR) is considered in cases where a child dies from abuse or neglect.

A final decision on whether to conduct a SCR should be made by the independent chairman of the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCBs) within a month of the case coming to his or her attention.

Government ministers have encouraged boards to publish the overview reports and executive summaries of all SCRs unless there are ‘compelling reasons relating to the welfare of any children directly concerned in the case for this not to happen’.

SCRs are designed to be learning exercises tasked with carefully considering the circumstances surrounding the death.

The hope is that local professionals and organisations can improve the way they work together to safeguard children.

In the past, common themes in SCRs have included poor communication between agencies, and failings in assessments and decision-making.

The publication of SCRs often make the headlines – Baby P in Haringey, toddler Keanu Williams who was beaten to death by his mother in Birmingham and Coventry four-year-old Daniel Pelka.

Critics have argued that SCRs feed the blame culture and said their outcomes are of limited value because they tend to describe rather than analyse what has happened.

But advocates of SCRs insist the point is not to name and blame individuals or agencies, but rather to look at where improvements in practice need to be made in order to limit the risks to other children and young people.

SCRs feature an action plan, which should be monitored and reviewed by the LSCB.

SCRs can also be referred to as Part Eight reviews as they are a requirement of Chapter Eight of Working Together to Safeguard Children.

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