Both Ofsted and Lord Laming today called for urgent reforms to the system for producing serious case reviews.
The calls came after a joint area review of safeguarding in Haringey by Ofsted, the Healthcare Commission and the police inspectorate, also published today, found the SCR into Baby P’s death was inadequate.
A separate report on SCRs by Ofsted found that 20 out of 50 serious case reviews assessed by the inspectorate from 2007-8 were inadequate and none was outstanding. Of the 50 children involved, 35 were known to social care agencies but professionals “too often missed the warning signs or failed to act”.
Ofsted said in many cases no single agency had a “complete picture” of children and families at risk. The inspectorate called for better training for practitioners and an end to delays in finishing reviews. In some cases SCRs took more than three years to complete, it found.
The call came as the government published interim findings from Lord Laming’s review of child protection, ordered by children’s secretary Ed Balls after the Baby P trial.
In a letter to Balls, Laming also urged the government to reform the system. The peer recommended independent chairing of serious case reviews and a general revision of the Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance on child protection.
Laming also said executive summaries of SCRs – published as standard practice – needed to be “in every respect a fair summary” of the full report.
No to publication of full SCRs
But he said the full reports needed to remain confidential to protect vulnerable people, including children, and ensure the co-operation of important witnesses “often in a highly charged situation”.
Laming also rejected calls for a public inquiry into Haringey’s children’s services, arguing that it would “divert effort” from keeping children safe at present.
Ahead of his final report in February, Laming also indicated that he would not be recommending wider system reform, as he did following the Victoria Climbié inquiry, which reported in 2003.
Robustness of foundation
The peer said he had been “struck by the robustness of the foundation” of existing child protection services. “There is now a coherent system than incorporates the policy, law and guidance. From that I conclude that the main challenge is to ensure the system is fully implemented so as to ensure that the good practice becomes standard practice everywhere and in every services,” he added.