Most serious case reviews are taking too long to complete, according to a recent report by Ofsted.
In its interim report of SCRs for 2009-2010, Ofsted found that, of 85 reviews covered by the report, 41 took between six months and a year to complete, 13 took between one and two years and six took more than two years.
Just 25 SCRs were completed within six months, the timeframe made statutory in the latest Working Together to Safeguard Children published in December 2009.
According to Ofsted, the speed of completion was affected by how quickly a decision to carry out a review was made.
“Local Safeguarding Children Boards which began the serious case review process within one month of the board learning of the incident were much more likely to complete the process within the six-month timescale,” the report said.
“Of the cases completed in six months, a very large majority – 20 of the 25 cases – had been started within one month of learning of the incident. In contrast, when the completion was between six months and one year, a smaller proportion had begun the review within one month of learning of the incident.”
Ofsted’s report also found that only 41 of the 106 children subject to these reviews were in contact with social care services at the time of the incident.
The SCR process was hindered by a lack of good case chronologies, according to the report. Other issues included the difficulties encountered by social workers in identifying chronic neglect and the high eligibility thresholds for services.
Ofsted expressed concerns about poor communication. For instance, looked-after children services did not always identify the information that was available to them as being pertinent to assessments of risk undertaken by services for children in need.