Important child safeguarding info from Northants SCB
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Serious Case Reviews

January 2016

All professionals working with children in Northamptonshire should be aware of what Serious Case Reviews are, how they're carried out and how SCR findings are used.

Please review the information below and in particular, the new '7 Minute Briefing' document for you and your teams.

What is a 'Serious Case Review' (SCR) and what triggers a SCR?

The function of Local Safeguarding Children Boards, including the requirement to undertake reviews of serious cases in specified circumstances, is set out in Regulation 5 (1) (e) and (2) of the Local Safeguarding Children Boards Regulations 2006:

1. (e) Undertaking reviews of serious cases and advising the authority and their Board partners on lessons to be learned.

2. For the purposes of paragraph 1 (e), a serious case is one where:
(a) abuse or neglect of a child is known or suspected; and
(b) either (i) the child has died;
or (ii) the child has been seriously harmed and there is cause for concern as to the way in which the authority, their Board partners or other relevant persons have worked together to safeguard the child

SCRs look at how local professionals and organisations worked together to safeguard the child or young person at the centre of the review. It may also look at how they are working with other children in the immediate family. The review considers what has happened, what lessons can be learned for the future and what changes may need to be made. It is not a criminal investigation or Public Enquiry and its aim is not to apportion blame but to ensure that organisations learn lessons to help them keep children safe in the future.

How are SCRs carried out?

SCRs are led by an independent reviewer with no connection to the case under review or to the organisations whose actions are being reviewed.

Professionals involved with the child or family in the case are fully involved in reviews. They are invited to contribute their perspectives without fear of being blamed for actions they took in good faith.

Families are also invited to contribute to reviews. It should be made clear to them how they are going to be involved and their expectations should be managed appropriately and sensitively. This is important for ensuring that the child is at the centre of the process.

SCRs should be conducted in a way which:  
  • Recognises the complex circumstances in which professionals work together to safeguard children;
  • Seeks to understand precisely who did what and the underlying reasons that led individuals and organisations to act as they did;
  • Seeks to understand practice from the viewpoint of the individuals and organisations involved at the time rather than using hindsight;  
  • Is transparent about the way data is collected and analysed; and
  • Makes use of relevant research and case evidence to inform the findings.

What have we learned from SCRs in Northamptonshire?

Recent SCRs have identified issues such as:
Lack of:
  • Analysis of historical information
  • Robust planning and effective communication within and between agencies
  • Recognition of the vulnerabilities of babies and young mothers
  • Assessment of fathers or recognition of the role they plan in the family, even if 'absent'
  • Risk assessment of 'family' members
Other issues include:
  • Little evidence of the child's voice, i.e. what was it like to be a child in that family?
  • Sleeping arrangements not seen or discussed
  • Disguised compliance and focus on adult needs
  • Assumptions about professional's roles made and not challenged
  • Child Protection Plans not SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely)
Find out what actions have been taken as a result of recent SCRs.
See recent Northamptonshire SCRs.

Training opportunities

A programme of thematic workshops on different topics that includes learning from relevant SCRs is run on behalf of NSCB by Barnardo's and can be booked online.  See Barnardo's training schedule to book and see upcoming sessions

Other training sessions are run by NSCB - please contact us for further details on 01604 364036 or email

7 Minute Briefings 

Seven minute briefings will now be produced following the conclusion of all Serious Case Reviews undertaken in Northamptonshire. These briefings are designed for use in team meetings and focus on stimulating discussion around:
  • The learning from the Serious Case Review
  • How the SCR recommendations affect the working within your teams
  • What you will do to address the issues - and change working practice where necessary.
The most recent 7 Minute Briefing follows a SCR for a young child who sustained non-accidental injuries. Please complete these steps:

1. Click to download this most recent 7 Minute Briefing (word document).
2. Discuss the briefing with your team and make a note of your actions in the briefing word document.  
3. Email the completed briefing word document and any feedback to

Thank you. If you have any questions, please contact us for help. 
Copyright © 2016 Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership, All rights reserved.

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