Steep rise in serious case reviews

Neil Puffett
Thursday, September 25, 2014

The number of serious case reviews (SCRs) carried out into cases of child deaths or severe abuse have risen by more than 50 per cent in the space of just a year.

A total of 143 serious case reviews were initiated in 2013/14. Image: Phil Adams
A total of 143 serious case reviews were initiated in 2013/14. Image: Phil Adams

Figures published by Ofsted show that 143 SCRs were initiated between April 2013 and March 2014 – a 53 per cent increase on 2012/13, when there were 93.

Of the 143 SCRs in 2013/14, 74 were instigated in response to the death of a child or young person, compared with 69 in 2012/13.

The number of serious case reviews initiated as a result of an incident of serious harm almost trebled, from 24 in 2012/13, to 69 in 2013/14.

The increase coincides with the creation of the National Independent Panel of Independent Experts on Serious Case Reviews in July last year to scrutinise decisions on whether or not to conduct an SCR.

In 2011, CYP Now revealed there had been a sharp fall in the number of SCRs being carried out due to a reluctance among councils to "wash dirty linen in public" after the coalition government's decision to publish SCRs in full.

There were just 72 SCRs initiated in 2010/11, compared with 136 in 2009/10.

However, despite the increase, a report last month by the national panel suggested that there is still “clearly a deep reluctance in some instances” to initiate an SCR.

The latest Ofsted statistics also show that the number of notifications made to Ofsted of "serious incidents" also increased by nearly a third. These are defined as incidents that will either automatically lead to a SCR, that are so serious they may lead to a SCR, or that are likely to attract media attention.

In 2013/14, there were a total of 298 serious incident notifications made to the social care regulator, up from 231 in 2012/13 – an increase of 29 per cent. A total of 163 of the notifications (54.7 per cent) related to child deaths – down on the figure of 170 in 2012/13.

The remaining 135 incidents related to incidents of "serious" harm, more than double the number that was reported in 2012/13 when there were 61.

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