Serious case reviews: Community Care’s recommendations for Laming

Serious case reviews should be published in full and sent to all relevant practioners nationally, Community Care has told Lord Laming’s inquiry into child ­protection.

In its submission to the inquiry, Community Care also recommended that the approach to serious case reviews must be altered to prevent a blame culture. It said reviews should focus on how and why errors happened rather than who made mistakes.

Children’s secretary Ed Balls approached Lord Laming in November to head the inquiry into child protection, following the Baby P case.


Community Care’s recommendations have so far received backing from experts, including independent child protection consultant Perdeep Gill.

“The argument for not publishing full reviews to protect vulnerable people is a big cop-out – you just anonymise the reports,” said Gill.

“The executive summaries are superficial and often convoluted so it is very hard to see what the missed opportunities were. There is also a problem in the way that some of the authors commissioned to write serious case reviews are briefed. They can be told not to speak to certain people, which means they are colluding to keep information out of the report.”

Focus on learning

Ray Jones, professor of social work at Kingston University and former British Association of Social Workers chair, disagreed that serious case reviews should be published in full. But he backed Community Care’s call for review panels to be independent of agencies involved in the case and that the focus should be on learning not blame.

The recommendations follow news last week that shadow children’s minister Tim Loughton had brokered a deal with Birmingham Council to publish all future serious case reviews in full.

“We need to have much greater transparency here,” said Loughton. “The public need reassurance that serious case reviews are really looking at the issues they need to be looking at.”

Lord Laming is expected to publish his report in March.

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