The responsibility for how the system learns the lessons from serious child safeguarding incidents lies at a national level with the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (the Panel) and at local level with the safeguarding partners.
The Panel is responsible for identifying and overseeing the review of serious child safeguarding cases which, in its view, raise issues that are complex or of national importance.
Sometimes a child suffers a serious injury or death as a result of child abuse or neglect. Understanding not only what happened but also why things happened as they did can help to improve our response in the future. Understanding the impact that the actions of different organisations and agencies had on the child’s life, and on the lives of his or her family, and whether or not different approaches or actions may have resulted in a different outcome, is essential to improve our collective knowledge. It is in this way that we can make good judgments about what might need to change at a local or national level. (Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018)
The purpose of reviews of serious child safeguarding cases, at both local and national level, is to identify improvements to be made to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Reviews should seek to prevent or reduce the risk of recurrence of similar incidents. They are not conducted to hold individuals, organisations or agencies to account, as there are other processes for that purpose, including through employment law and disciplinary procedures, professional regulation and, in exceptional cases, criminal proceedings.
Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) defines serious child safeguarding cases as those in which abuse of neglect of a child is known or suspected and the child has died or been seriously harmed.
Safeguarding partners are required, by the Child Safeguarding Practice Review and Relevant Agency (England) Regulations 2018, to consider certain criteria and guidance when determining whether to carry out a LCSPR. They must take into account whether the case highlights, or may highlight;
- Improvements needed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, including where those improvements have been previously identified;
- Recurrent themes in the safeguarding and promotion of the welfare of children;
- Concerns regarding two or more organisations or agencies working together effectively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children; and / or
- Is one which the National Panel have considered and concluded that a local review may be more appropriate.
They should also have regard to the following circumstances:
- Where the safeguarding partners have cause for concern about the actions of a single agency;
- Where there has been no agency involvement this gives the safeguarding partners cause for concern;
- Where more than one local authority, police area or clinical commissioning group is involved, including in cases where families have moved around;
- Where the case may raise issues relating to safeguarding or promoting the welfare of children in institutional settings.
Meeting the criteria does not mean a LCSPR must automatically be undertaken, it make be that an alternative learning review is considered.
The National Panel have provided the following timescales within their guidance;
- Notifications to the National Panel of incidents meeting the criteria should be made within 5 working days of becoming aware of the incident.
- Rapid Review reports should be submitted to the National Panel within 15 working days (National Panel will advise of the submission date after the notification has been made).
- Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews should be completed no later than six months from the date of the decision to initiate a review.
Once concluded reports and learning briefs relating to the reviews will be published here for a period of 12mths after their date of publication.