A child protection expert reiterated calls for serious case reviews to be published in full at Community Care LIVE yesterday.
Social care consultant Perdeep Gill said a more transparent system was essential to rebuild public confidence in social work.
Serious case reviews required professionals to make an “emotional journey” of taking responsibility for mistakes made, she said, urging delegates to put concerns about their own confidentiality to one side.
Gill added: “We sometimes forget the child that died.”
Gill said SCRs were not fulfilling their central purpose – to establish what lessons could be learned from the way professionals and agencies worked together to safeguard children.
Local safeguarding children boards are only required to publish executive summaries of serious case reviews, which cover cases where children die or are seriously injured and abuse is a factor.
Gill criticised the defensive conclusions of executive summaries, which she said often “reframed” errors in practice.
“We are left to speculate why professionals made the judgements they made. What was in the minds of those professionals? What was the chronology? What was recorded?”
Her comments echoed Community Care’s submission to Lord Laming’s review of child protection, that reviews should be published in full and sent to all relevant practitioners nationally.
Laming against full publication
However, Laming concluded that full publication would compromise the confidentiality of vulnerable people and deter witnesses from coming forward, “rendering the task worthless”. This conclusion was endorsed by the government in its response to Laming last week.
However, Gill rejected this argument, citing the Victoria Climbié inquiry, which Laming himself chaired, as an example of how professionals were willing to come forward “give their account”.
In his child protection review, published this year, Laming recommended that that there should be “high quality, publicly available executive summaries which accurately represent the full report”.
Guidance to be revised
The government said this would be reflected in a revised chapter of Working Together to Safeguard Children, which it will issue for consultation in July.
- Read how the plenary session at Community Care Live unfolded
Expert guide: Laming review of child protection
The protection of children in England – the government’s response to Lord Laming