A Serious Case Review (SCR) is a review of all services that have been provided to a child or a young person and their family, prior to their death (including death by suicide) or serious injury, where abuse (physical, emotional or sexual) and neglect are believed to be a contributory factor. LSCBs are required to undertake Serious Case Reviews under regulation 5 of the Children Act 2004 and guidance for this is contained in Chapter 4 of Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015. The Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) is a multi-agency body with the role of coordinating the local organisations, and ensure they comply with the policies and procedures to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Each LSCB has his own procedures for dealing with child abuse, in line with legislation and government guidance and decides whether it is a serious case to review. They must find out why the incident happened, why nothing was done and why the procedures weren’t acted upon.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the main purposes of the review are to:
• establish whether there are lessons to be learnt from the case in order to better safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
• clearly identify what those lessons are, how they can be acted upon, and what is expected to change as a result;
• improve multi-agency working and better safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young adults.
Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) follow statutory guidance for conducting the serious case reviews. According to NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), “the decisions to conduct an SCR should be made within one month of the notification of the incident … “and the LSCB must notify the National Panel of Independent Experts and Ofsted of this decision”. Ofsted must also know what has happened to the victim, as they will raise specific questions in case the child was in an educational setting. For example, Ofsted would ask why anyone in the setting didn’t notice that the child/young adult was getting abused or what was the policy and the procedures the setting was following, etc.
A Serious Case Review is led by an individual appointed by the LSCB who is independent of the case under review and it is expected to recognise the circumstances in which professionals work together to safeguard children, to understand precisely who did what and the underlying reasons that led individuals, professionals and organisations, to act in a certain way, and to understand practice from the point of view of the individuals and organisations involved. The lead reviewed should be transparent about the collection of data analysed and should make relevant research on the case.
For the review process, the LSCB should make sure there is appropriate representation of the different professionals and organisations who were involved with the child and the family.
The LSCB should complete the SCR within 6 months using information obtained from interviewing family members, people who know and may have known the victim and other participating agencies.
According to NSPCC, “the final SCR report, and the LSCB’s response to the findings, should be published on the LSCB website for a minimum of 12 months and should be available on request. This is important for sharing lessons learnt and good practice in writing and publishing SCRs”.
The final report should be written in a way that can be easily understood by the whole public and not by professionals only; it should provide a good analysis of what happened and why and should also be suitable for publication without needing emendations.