The debate over whether serious case reviews (SCRs) into child deaths and serious injuries should be published in full has intensified after Doncaster Council refused to publish the full account of events leading to the violent attack on two young boys in Edlington last April by two brothers.
Although the judge in the case demanded to see the full SCR, the council only released an executive summary. The leaking of the full version last week to BBC’s Newsnight is now the subject of a police investigation.
The Doncaster branch of Unison has called for the council to publish more information. “The executive summary doesn’t go far enough in terms of reassuring people that lessons have been learned,” a spokesperson told Community Care.
“The full anonymised recommendations and details needs to be published. Clearly we wouldn’t want anything published that could identify individuals, but the detail needs to be made much more widely available.”
Shadow children’s minister Tim Loughton told a conference last week that a Tory government would publish SCRs in full, claiming this would stop social workers being blamed for every case that went wrong.
Association of Directors of Children’s Services president Kim Bromley-Derry said full publication of SCRs posed risks for other vulnerable children. However, he called for comprehensive executive summaries that were honest and transparent to ensure the public was clear about what went wrong in each case.
The brothers, now aged 11 and 12, were jailed last week for a minimum of five years and sent to a secure children’s home. There are conflicting reports over whether Doncaster Council has begun disciplining workers involved in the case.
Doncaster’s executive summary of the SCR said that while the extent of the brothers’ attack could not have been predicted, the perpetrators had shown “an escalating pattern of violence” over a period of several months and that there had been “opportunities to intervene more effectively right up to the week before the assault”.
Doncaster SCR: Most important learning points
● The consequences of sustained exposure to violence and neglect.
● Domestic violence was known about in this family from 1995 onwards
● The reorganisation of council services in 2005 disrupted the delivery of core statutory services
● The need to improve co-ordination and integration of safeguarding and public safety strategies for work with damaged, antisocial and complex families
● The necessity of workforce experience and training: many professionals involved with this family were not capable of handling the extent of the family’s problems
● The need to focus on outcomes for children: throughout involvement with the family, the focus was primarily on the boys’ mother