Pledge over child death reports

Lessons learned from serious case reviews can help protect children
Lessons learned from serious case reviews can help protect children

Six serious case reviews into the deaths of children in Northamptonshire will be completed as a matter of urgency, according to the board responsible.

Serious case reviews (SCRs) follow the deaths of children from abuse or neglect and offer lessons which councils, police and other authorities could learn.

Chairman of the Local Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire (LSCBN) Kevin Crompton said: “Under statutory guidance the LSCBN is obliged to undertake an SCR when abuse or neglect of a child is suspected and either the child has died, or suffers serious injury and there is cause for concern as to the way in which the authority, partner agencies or others have worked together to safeguard the child.

“An SCR is not a criminal investigation nor is it a disciplinary investigation.

“They are complex pieces of work undertaken by an independent expert working with relevant agencies to establish exactly what happened and to identify key learning points to inform future practice.

“Under normal circumstances reviews are completed within six months and the reports are published.

“From April 2013 any decision by a board not to publish has to be referred to a national panel established by the DfE.

“When I started work as the new independent chairman in March I made it clear I had found a number of ongoing SCRs in progress and resolved to complete them all and get them published.

“I have been responsible for overseeing six SCRs – four were live at the time of my appointment and two have started since.”

Cllr John McGhee, leader of the Labour Group at Northamptonshire County Council, said: “I am extremely frustrated that we still do not know the results of the six outstanding serious case reviews into deaths and incidents of serious child abuse.

“Kevin Crompton said in March that he was hopeful information would be forthcoming fairly quickly, but that hasn’t happened and we now know that at least one of the reports will not see the light of day.

“What I would like to know is that action has been taken and lessons learned in that case.

“I would also like to see systems and processes put in place so that we can monitor the effectiveness of the measures that have been taken.”

Cllr Danielle Stone, Labour’s shadow cabinet member with responsibility for children and young people, added: “Our message has been clear all along – more funding for children’s services is desperately required.

“You cannot cut as much as the Conservative administration has without dire consequences, and only now are others starting to wake up to the grim reality.

“We need a change in culture, a shift back to permanent social care staff and to ensure that national terms and conditions for staff removed by the current administration are reinstated as soon as possible.

“Once all of that happens, we can begin to attract the calibre of staff that we require to sort this mess out.”

Pledge to publish results

Child safeguarding board chairman Kevin Crompton said outstanding reviews will be released before his first year in office ends but one will remain secret.

Ofsted inspectors released a damning report on Northamptonshire County Council’s children’s services in March and described its performance as “inadequate”.

The review of child protection services was triggered when an inspection highlighted a number of concerns including delays in publication of serious case reviews.