Social workers are missing out on valuable information and learning because the government's policy to publish serious case reviews in full applies only to reviews commissioned after June 2010.
"I can't see why they would restrict the full publication policy to this time-frame," said Nushra Mansuri, joint England manager of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). "It's unacceptable that not just the public, but professionals aren't being given this information as soon as they can.
"The government needs to be more transparent about why they've taken this stance. If they don't, it will only lead to criticism about whether there's something they're trying to hide."
Victims' families are also applying pressure for more immediate full publication of all SCRs. The parents of seven-year-old Warren Jobling, who died in 2008 during a respite care break, said yesterday that the executive SCR summary published about their son's death left too many questions unanswered.
The summary said Warren had a history of cardiac arrest and could have died at any time. Warren's mother, however, told the BBC she wanted to know where Warren was sleeping and should have been sleeping at the time, saying the family could not move on until their questions were answered.
A spokesperson from the Department for Education told Community Care the time-frame had been set because the department did not want to publish in full those reviews commissioned under the previous government.
Exceptions were made, however, for the Peter Connelly and Khyra Ishaq reviews, both of which were commissioned before June 2010 and both of which have been published in full. The government also said it would publish the Shannon Matthews and Edlington torture case reviews in full.
SCR author, Stephen Cameron, said the cut-off was fairer on those writing the reviews.
"If an author is part way through writing a serious case review, it's not fair to change the policy while that process is going on. Authors usually go through a series of drafts and knowing the final result is going to be made public could change the way in which they go about organising their information."
Cameron said SCR authors would be more cautious knowing their reviews would be in the public eye and media spotlight and the possibility of disciplinary action resulting from information in the reviews.
"Although SCRs aren't supposed to be about disciplinary processes, there are cases where a review has led to a hearing," he said. "Authors would be aware of that possibility and it could impact the way in which they write the review."
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