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Serious Case Reviews

Volume 447: debated on Monday 12 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many serious case reviews for children have been carried out; and what guidance his Department issues on (a) the scrutiny of the full review of the review and (b) the single agency contributions to the review by elected representatives on the relevant social services authority. (68695)

[holding answer 9 May 2006]: The Child Protection database, maintained by the Commission for Social Care Inspection, indicates that 78 cases from 2003-04 were the subject of a Serious Case Review (SCR), while 82 cases from 2004-05 were the subject of a SCR. The data for 2005-2006 are not yet complete.

Guidance on these issues is contained in ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’, which includes guidance on the role and functions of local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs). One of the core functions of LSCBs is to undertake SCRs. Chapter 8 of ‘Working Together’ sets out how and when SCRs should be undertaken. This includes specifying how the relevant services should undertake separate management reviews, and how the LSCB should commission an overview report which brings together and analyses the findings. ‘Working Together’ states that the LSCB should consider carefully who might have an interest in reviews, for example, elected and appointed members of authorities, and what information should be made available to each of these interests, considering a number of factors including the need to maintain confidentiality in respect of personal information, and the accountability of public services. In all cases there is a public executive summary.

‘Working Together’ also states that LSCBs should have clear work programmes, including measurable objectives, and budgets. This will enable LSCBs’ work to be scrutinised by local authorities, other local partners and key stakeholders as well as by the inspectorates. Elected members’ role, through their membership of governance bodies such as the cabinet of the local authority or a scrutiny committee or a governance board, is to hold their organisation and its officers to account for their contribution to the effective functioning of the LSCB. The lead member for children's services within the local authority will have a particular focus on how the local authority is fulfilling its responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and will hold the director of children services to account for the work of the LSCB.