Ray Jones and Bronagh Miskelly debate publishing SCRs in full

‘Do not publish in full’

Community Care and David Cameron argue that the publication of full serious case review reports will increase confidence in social workers by showing what they do and will increase accountability.

But the idea that allowing the press to have access to information about physical and sexual violence towards children and women, and that this will not be used to satisfy the voyeuristic excitement of at least some newspaper readers, flies in the face of what we know of the tabloids.

60x60Also, the belief that what we read in the papers is reliable has been severely challenged in the past year. Remember how the media were completely hoodwinked by Karen Matthews?

With SCRs especially, just about everyone referred to in it will be identifiable within their neighbourhood, even if names are not given.

Also, authors would start to self-censor and edit the full reports, which are important for agency learning. What a pity there is not as yet apparently the trust in Ofsted to ensure that the published SCR executive summaries properly reflect the full report.

Ray Jones is professor of social work at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London

‘Publish detailed anonymised reports’

Community Care has not argued for SCRs simply to be published in full. Instead we have called for detailed anonymised reports that concentrate on helping all of social care to avoid the same mistakes in the future. It is certainly not about revealing salacious details about individuals.

The failings of the current SCR system are illustrated by this case in Doncaster and the published executive summary.

The obscure nature (to a lay person) and the lack of detail around children’s services ‘failings’ have led to concerns in some media of a ‘cover up’, something that will not inspire greater trust in social work.

The SCR states that failings occurred in children’s services without offering any insight into what might be done differently to avoid such mistakes. For example, if social workers were inexperienced, how should practice be changed? The SCR’s recommendations focus on protocols and monitoring activity rather than on improving frontline practice.

The health service and the airline industry show that a focus on understanding mistakes and making appropriate change improves safety and confidence; social work should not fear the same step.

Bronagh Miskelly is editor of Community Care

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