LSCBLocal Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire

Serious Case Reviews

Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) are carried out by Local Safeguarding Children Boards for every case where abuse/neglect is known or suspected and either:

  • a child has died or;
  • a child has been seriously harmed and there are concerns about how organisations or professionals worked together to protect the child.

In addition, an SCR should always be carried out when a child dies in custody, in police custody, on remand or following sentencing, in a Young Offender Institution, in a secure training centre or a secure children’s home. The same applies where a child dies who was detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 or where a child aged 16 or 17 was the subject of a deprivation of liberty order under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The purpose of Serious Case Reviews

SCRs look at how local professionals and organisations worked together to safeguard the child or young person at the centre of the review. It may also look at how they are working with other children in the immediate family. The review considers what has happened, what lessons can be learned for the future and what changes may need to be made. It is not a criminal investigation or Public Enquiry and its aim is not to apportion blame but to ensure that organisations learn lessons to help them keep children safe in the future. 

Carrying out Serious Case Reviews

SCRs are led by an independent reviewer with no connection to the case under review or to the organisations whose actions are being reviewed.

Professionals involved with the child or family in the case are fully involved in reviews. They are invited to contribute their perspectives without fear of being blamed for actions they took in good faith.

Families are also invited to contribute to reviews. It should be made clear to them how they are going to be involved and their expectations should be managed appropriately and sensitively. This is important for ensuring that the child is at the centre of the process.

SCRs should be conducted in a way which:  

  • recognises the complex circumstances in which professionals work together to safeguard children;
  • seeks to understand precisely who did what and the underlying reasons that led individuals and organisations to act as they did;
  • seeks to understand practice from the viewpoint of the individuals and organisations involved at the time rather than using hindsight;  
  • is transparent about the way data is collected and analysed; and
  • makes use of relevant research and case evidence to inform the findings.

Learning from Serious Case Reviews

Serious Case Reviews are not ends in themselves. The purpose of these reviews is to identify improvements which are needed and to consolidate good practice. The findings from Serious Case Reviews are translated into programmes of action which lead to sustainable improvements and the prevention of death, serious injury or harm to children.

Details of how Serious Case Reviews are incorporated into ongoing training for professionals can be found in the NSCB Learning and Development Strategy.

Recently published Northamptonshire Serious Case Reviews

Legislation and guidance around Serious Case Reviews

SCRs are conducted under the guidance of Working Together To Safeguard Children 2015 (Chapter 4)

Regulation 5 of the Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) Regulations 2006 sets out the function of LSCBs.

Last updated: 26 January 2017

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