Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews
Durham Safeguarding Children Partnership will identify serious child safeguarding cases which raise issues of importance in relation to the area and commission and oversee a review of those cases where they consider it appropriate to do so. The identification of serious child safeguarding cases will primarily be through the notification requirements placed on Durham County Council which require certain incidents to be notified to the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.
In Durham this responsibility will lie with a multiagency single point of contact (SPOC) group to determine if the criteria is met for a notifiable incident. Any organisation within statutory or official duties in relation to children (including all members of the partnership) should inform the Durham Safeguarding Children Partnership Business Unit of any incident which they think should be considered as a notifiable incident and should be considered for a child safeguarding practice review.
The definition of a serious child safeguarding case are those in which:
- abuse or neglect of a child is known or suspected and the child has died or has been seriously harmed.
- Serious harm includes (but is not limited to) serious and/or long-term impairment of a child’s mental health or intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development. It should also cover impairment of physical health.
These points are not an exhaustive list. When making decisions, judgment should be exercised in cases where impairment is likely to be long-term, even if this is not immediately certain. Even if a child recovers, including from a one-off incident, serious harm may still have occurred.
Notification of incidents
When a Safeguarding Partner knows or suspects that a child has been abused or neglected and the definition of a serious child safeguarding case applies, a referral will be made to the Durham Safeguarding Children Partnership Business Unit to hold a multiagency notification consideration meeting to determine if the criteria is met for a notifiable incident within 5 working days of becoming aware of the incident.
Child perpetrators may also be the subject of a review, if the definition of ‘serious child safeguarding case’ is met. A meeting of single points of contact members will be arranged and a decision made as to whether the criteria for a notifiable incident is met. If the criteria is met for a notifiable incident Durham Safeguarding Children Partnership will notify the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel on behalf of Durham County Council of any incident that meets the notification criteria within 5 working days of becoming aware using the approved online notification process.
The Business Unit will arrange for a Rapid Review to be undertaken and completed for all cases agreed to be a notifiable incident.
The aim of a Rapid Review is to enable safeguarding partners to:
- Gather the facts about the case, as far as they can be readily established at the time.
- Discuss whether there is any immediate action needed to ensure children’s safety and share any learning appropriately.
- Consider the potential for identifying improvements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
- Decide what steps they should take next, including whether or not to undertake a child safeguarding practice review.
As soon as the Rapid Review is complete, the safeguarding Business Unit should send a copy to the National Panel. They should also share with the National Panel their decision about whether a local child safeguarding practice review is appropriate, or whether they think the case may raise issues which are complex or of national importance such that a national review may be appropriate.
The Rapid Review will be undertaken and completed within 15 working days of notification and will be coordinated by the DSCP Business Manager. A detailed process for Rapid Reviews has been agreed across Durham and is available in the Resource Library.
When considering whether to commission a child safeguarding practice review the safeguarding partners will have regard to the definition of a serious child safeguarding case and the following criteria:
Whether the case:
- highlights or may highlight improvements needed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, including where those improvements have been previously identified.
- highlights or may highlight recurrent themes in the safeguarding and promotion of the welfare of children.
- highlights or may highlight concerns regarding two or more organisations or agencies working together effectively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
- is one which the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel have considered and concluded a local review may be more appropriate.
Where there are differences of opinion in whether the criteria for a review have been met, a majority decision will be accepted (i.e. 2 of the 3 partners in agreement). The Safeguarding Partners may consider that a child safeguarding practice review is appropriate for cases that do not meet the definition of a ‘serious child safeguarding case’ but nevertheless might reveal learning related to good practice, poor practice or near misses.
The response of the National Panel to the Rapid Review will be reported back to the Safeguarding Partners. Should the National Panel disagree with the decision made by the Safeguarding Partners the DSCP Business Manager will circulate the details of the response and convene a meeting/telephone conference of the DSCP Executive Group to consider the information provided and review the initial decision.
The Safeguarding Partners, with advice from the Independent Chair, may decide to adhere to their initial decision or conclude that a Child Safeguarding Practice Review should be commissioned, in either case the justification should be clearly recorded and provided to the National Panel.
The outcome and rationale for the Safeguarding Partners’ decision on whether or not to conduct a review will be communicated in writing to the child/family concerned. Where possible this should be provided in person through the practitioner currently working with the family (social worker/police officer) to allow an opportunity for any questions to be raised and responded to.
The Independent Chair will complete a 6 monthly audit of the Rapid Reviews undertaken during the previous period to provide assurance to the Extended Safeguarding Executive Group that the process is working effectively and that appropriate decisions are being made with a clear rationale.
Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews will be undertaken in line with the local procedures. The process will be managed by the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel. Once completed the Review Report will be presented to the Extended Safeguarding Executive Group for sign off.
Reviews will be completed and published within six months unless there are extenuating circumstances such as an ongoing criminal or coronial proceedings. Any delay to the completion or publication of a review will be approved by the Extended Safeguarding Executive Group and the reasons notified to the National Panel and Secretary of State.
In some circumstances the Extended Safeguarding Executive Group may consider it not to be appropriate to publish a review report in which case arrangements will be made to publish information about the improvements that should be made following the review. The Safeguarding Executive Group will set out for the National Panel and the Secretary of State the justification for any decision not to publish either the full report or information relating to improvements.
Publication of Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews or information about the improvements that should be made will be via the DSCP website. The reports/information will remain on the website for a one year period and thereafter will be available on request. The NSPCC maintains a national case review repository where case reviews remain available electronically for five years.
Safeguarding partners should have regard to any comments that the Panel or the Secretary of State may make in respect of publication. The learning from the reviews will fed into the Embedded Learning Group to assure that learning is disseminated and embedded by practitioners