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Serious case reviews to be abolished

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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.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Vincent McGovern says:

    Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted boss in October 2013 after the Daniel Pelka avoidable tragedy, publicly stated that most LCSB were not worthy of the name. In Brent 2015 Ofsted found serious failings in the LCSB after I had brought evidence of institutional child endangering malpractice to their attention. This malpractice was identical to so much of what had been exposed in the Daniel Pelka tragedy. Bear in mind Lord Laming had conducted a huge inquiry into Brent and Haringey in 2001. In 2011? after baby P he was asked to do an overview on Haringey. His comment was that they had not implemented his recommendations.

    I fear this new system will just be an enhanced version of the self protective previous. Above all, the system protects the system. As I found out with my 5 Ombudsman (3PHSO) into all the agencies buttressing the UK family court system.

  2. Andrew says:

    “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.”
    That’s right, those deckchairs need re-arranging, the Titanic is a mess . . .

  3. Elizabeth Johnson says:

    “New National learning framework” .. yeah, right. Expect more cases of tragedy followed by public staements of ‘We will learn from this’. When does anything they ‘learn’ from these tragedies actually inform and change working practice significantly enough to offer children the timely, effective and adequate safeguarding and protection which is their inalienable right, unless it is imposed on that LA Childrens’ Services in response to public abhorance over the death of yet another infant? What I find equally mind boggling is that a LA CEO is paid significantly more in annual salary than the prime minister is paid for running the entire country and YET these LA CEOs cannot..or perhaps do not care to… run a local authority area well enough to ensure that its Childrens’ Services do the job it is tasked with. It’s a heartbreakingly abysmal situation. In the recent pilot test for the Govt’s accreditaion of social workers, 20% of SWs failed. Says it all doesn’t it. For 20 years if you wanted a cushy job for life, you did a paltry 2 year non pathway specific SW diploma and then you were licensed to wreak havoc with impunity, in the social services sector with the ‘voiceless’ – vulnerable children and adults who could not stand up for themselves. And when those who can complain, do, then woe betide that poor vulnerable person. All hell has no fury like a social worker complained about! With line managers and heads of Childrens’ Services being entirely complicit in any cover up of failings, and subsequent retribution. The whole system is geared to protecting the social worker at all levels.
    Part of the solution would be to ensure that ALL existing social workers right up to department directors, as well as any new applicant should have to undergo and pass personality tests to weed out anyone with psychopathic and sociopathic tendancies and personailty disorders. Those who are licensed to play God with the lives of others need to prove ‘a priori’ that they are emotionally, mentally and psychologially healthy and stable. Otherwise… God Help Us… because nothing will change.. lipservice will simply become more vocal and public, with a transparency which will remain opaque enough to ensure that accountability remains buried in the murk.
    Next part of the solution? Make the burden of evidence required and given in family courts by all parties including SWs and experts to have the same requirements and legality as that of the criminal courts, with the same criminal prosecution and penalties applying for ommission or falsification of evidence designed to deceive.

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