Newham’s local safeguarding children board is seriously undermining the social work profession by failing to conduct a serious case review about the suspicious death of a child, according to the Victoria Climbié Foundation (VCF).
A 15-year-old boy was found drowned and with a number of injuries, in a bathtub on Christmas day, 2010. Two adults have been accused of the child’s murder. Despite the suspicious circumstance, the VCF understands that Newham Council does not plan to conduct a SCR.
“We’ve heard that Newham and other councils are not carrying out the reviews since Tim Loughton decided to fully disclose them,” Mor Dioum, director of the VCF, told Community Care.
“This presents a huge issue within child protection at the moment. We’ve heard the position of managers is that they don’t want to wash their dirty linen in public, but this is seriously undermining the purpose of serious case reviews – nobody is going to learn the lessons that need to be learned if councils aren’t willing to carry them out.”
If Newham does not carry out a review, its LSCB will be open to legal challenge, according to the Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards Regulations (2006).
“They would be breaking the law if they don’t conduct a review,” said Ed Mitchell, solicitor and editor of Social Care Law Today. “There isn’t a loophole for councils in relation to child death. If an interested party took it to judicial review, the High Court would order the LSCB to carry one out.”
Newham would neither confirm nor deny whether its board was planning to carry out a review. A council spokesman said: “Because of ongoing legal proceedings, it is inappropriate for us to comment at this time.”
The VCF campaigned heavily for the full publication of SCRs, but Dioum said Newham and other councils’ reaction was far from the result they desired.
“If serious case reviews are not conducted, we may go back to the position we were in before Victoria Climbié was killed,” he said. “There will be huge issues around transparency and accountability, which are two areas Tim Loughton wanted to improve with full publication.”
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