Local safeguarding children boards will be required to review and publish details of more child safeguarding cases under government plans revealed today.
LSCBs will be required to conduct reviews of cases that do not meet serious case review criteria but can help identify “improvements” needed in local services. The results of all reviews should be published by agencies involved so that the “public can hold them to account”, draft Department for Education (DfE) guidance states.
“Reports on reviews and follow-up action [should be] shared with the public so that there is transparency about the issues arising from individual cases and the actions which organisations are taking in response to them,” the guidance states.
Nushra Mansuri, professional officer at the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), said reviews of cases that don’t meet serious case review thresholds could help agencies and frontline workers learn from “positive cases” and “near misses”.
But she said further work was needed on the practicalities of publishing all case reviews, to ensure clients are protected and that learning is effectively disseminated to frontline staff.
“There needs to be some debate on how the information will be made available and what is the purpose of it? In serious case reviews it is all about what is in the public interest, but publishing details of reviews where those thresholds haven’t been met is a different issue,” Mansuri said.
“We do want to have better engagement with the media, and improve public understanding of the work children’s services do. This could be an opportunity for that by, for example, looking at learning from positive cases. But there needs to be some discussion on how we can publish information without compromising or identifying children or families.”
Ray Jones, professor of social work at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London, said audits of cases that fail to meet SCR criteria provided useful learning across agencies. But he criticised plans to force LSCBs to share the results of the reviews publicly.
“The benefit of having these audits across agencies is that they can be more open. People can be confident that they can openly discuss what has been happening in a case and their concerns about it without the danger that all this information will then reach the public arena,” Jones said.
“It will be desperately unhelpful if, even when there hasn’t been a serious injury to a child, a consequence of LSCBs trying to audit practice and take a view is that all of this information gets made public,” he added.
Professor Corrine May-Chahal, co-chair of The College of Social Work, said:
“Our initial response is that the guidance on serious case reviews and other reviews is broadly in line with the Munro recommendations, providing that a systemic approach to SCRs emphasising why things went wrong is also adopted. In the context of such a learning culture in children’s services, we can see no reason why the criteria for initiating case reviews should not be extended in a limited way.”
The DfE consultation on Working Together closes on 4 September.
- Child protection guidance Working Together cut to 21 pages
- Fear over plans to “slaughter” child protection guidance