Shadow children’s minister Tim Loughton has criticised Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board’s failure to publish serious case reviews in full despite an apparent pledge to do so from a leading local councillor.
In February, Loughton told the House of Commons he had secured an agreement from the Conservative-run Birmingham Council that the safeguarding board would publish SCRs in full, going beyond the requirement to publish executive summaries.
Cabinet member for children’s services Les Lawrence subsequently told Community Care the council was committed to publishing documents “equivalent to the full report” after the removal of information which would constitute a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
He said this would improve public confidence in children’s services. However, the safeguarding board only published executive summaries of four SCRs issued last week, all of which had been rewritten after Ofsted deemed the originals inadequate.
Loughton said Birmingham “should explain why they have not published these reports in full – professionals and the public deserve transparency”.
“Public confidence in child protection has to be restored as a matter of urgency. Local safeguarding children boards need to publish suitably anonymised and redacted full serious case reviews so that everyone can learn from mistakes,” he said.
However, safeguarding board chair Tony Howell said Lawrence “may have been expressing his personal view about the publication of SCRs”, and emphasised that reviews were the responsibility of the safeguarding board, not the council.
Howell, who is also the council’s director of children’s services, said: “The LSCB should not be subordinate to, or subsumed within, children’s trust arrangements in a way that might compromise its separate identity and independent voice.”
He said the executive summaries published last week highlighted the main findings of the SCRs while protecting family identities.
Working Together to Safeguard Children says safeguarding boards should publish executive summaries of SCRs.
Revised guidance, published for consultation last month, seems to go further than this in saying boards should publish “only the SCR executive summary”, potentially ruling out full publication.
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