“Serious case reviews to be scrapped”

By Neil Puffett

| 26 May 2016

The current system of serious case reviews (SCRs) will be scrapped and replaced with a new way of investigating child deaths, the government has said.

The move comes after a review into local safeguarding children boards, published today, called for fundamental changes to multi-agency arrangements for protecting children.

It recommends replacing SCRs with local learning inquiries (LLIs) and national serious case inquiries (NSCIs), and establishing a new national learning framework.

The government has said it backs the idea and plans to replace the current system of SCRs and miscellaneous local reviews with “a system of national and local reviews”.

In its response to the review, which was conducted by former president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services, Alan Wood, the government states the move will improve the speed and quality of reviews and make sure that lessons are learned.

The response states: “The Wood Review argues that we need a fundamental change, bringing to an end the existing system of serious case reviews, and replacing it with a new national learning framework for inquiries into child deaths and cases where children have experienced serious harm.

"We agree. We therefore intend to replace the current system of SCRs and miscellaneous local reviews with a system of national and local reviews."

An independent national panel will be responsible for commissioning and publishing national reviews and investigating the most serious and complex cases relating to children.

Local safeguarding children boards will be required to carry out and publish the lessons from local reviews into cases which relate to a child or children in the local area and which are likely to lead to local learning.

Serious case reviews were introduced through the Local Safeguarding Boards Regulations 2006. An SCR must be undertaken if abuse or neglect of a child is known or suspected; and, either the child has died, or the child has been seriously harmed and there is cause for concern as to the way agencies have worked together to safeguard the child.

In August 2014, a government-appointed panel warned that quality of child death reviews is “disturbingly variable” with far too many failing to find out what went wrong.