Serious case reviews are to be abolished, the government has announced.
Under the present system, local authorities are required to establish independent panels called ‘local safeguarding children’s boards’ in their areas, with membership drawn from organisations that work directly with young people, including the Police, social workers, doctors and Cafcass. When a vulnerable child, such as one in the care system, dies or comes to serious harm, the boards then conduct serious case reviews (SCRs) to establish any lessons to be learned.
These reviews have attracted criticism in the past for inflexibility and complexity and for promoting a culture of “blame avoidance, apathy (and) defensiveness”.
Following a review of local safeguarding children’s boards, now retired children’s services director Alan Wood called for a major overhaul. The Wood Report suggested the replacement of the current board structure with a system of local and national enquiries.
In a newly published response to the report, the government has now endorsed the proposals, saying serious case reviews will be replaced.
“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.”
Enquiries into the most serious cases will be conducted by a national panel under the new system, with regional panels investigating cases seen as having more local relevance.