Print Version: VCF offers a cautious welcome to new Serious Case Review Panel
VCF cautiously welcomes the establishment of a new panel that becomes operational today, to help ensure that lessons are learned when a child dies or is seriously harmed and there are signs of abuse or neglect.
A serious intent, or a kick-start to an existing government policy to avoid the backlog of reviews not yet published by LSCBs?
VCF has been calling for a review of the process of serious case reviews since 2007, not least because they were internal and broadly delivered the same narrative in executive summaries; the lack of multi- or inter-agency communication or information sharing.
The response has been a long time coming and instead of publication and full disclosure of review reports, a requirement introduced by the Coalition Government in 2010, some local authorities now seek to offer managed learning in classroom settings – a far more costly and time-consuming approach to simply loading a quality report onto a website – with fewer individuals able to access the information.
What, if anything, has changed to bring about acceptance by LSCBs who have largely offered a wholesale rejection of the process to-date?
At VCF, we continue to be saddened by authorities that do not progress beyond internal reviews that seemingly offer SCR exemption despite, in one recent incidence, the death of a child through extreme abuse. Surely the time has come to mandate this process.
The new panel will reportedly advise, and challenge where appropriate. Is there clear criteria to support such challenge from the panel, and just how will panel members be able to hold LSCBs to account when they deliberately and wilfully seek to deny opportunities for learning within the sector, to bring about much needed public trust.
And of course there will be a minority of cases, albeit no less important, that fall outside of the stated remit?
Will due consideration be afforded to such cases where there are clearly opportunities to aid professional learning? Will the panel seek to support greater and more appropriate family involvement within the process of SCRs, and who will provide advice and guidance to LSCBs that do not appropriately address culture or faith; a significant factor in SCRs that have been conducted in the past.
Commenting on this new development for SCRs, VCF Director Mor Dioum said “a Serious Case Review Panel is certainly a positive step forward, although we believe the government needs to go further and mandate the process of serious case reviews.”
“Without a legislative framework in place for SCRs, we are left wondering how this panel will sufficiently influence and affect change within the sector to bring about the necessary learning to enhance the child protection system.”