The number of Serious Case Reviews carried out into child deaths has fallen to the lowest figures in three years.
Ofsted figures show that a total of 134 SCRs were initiated between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016 - the lowest recorded number in three years. It represents a drop of 19.3 per cent on 2014/15 when 166 SCRs were initiated.
Under statutory guidance, Ofsted should be notified if a child has died (including cases of suspected suicide), and abuse or neglect is known or suspected, a child has been seriously harmed and abuse or neglect is known or suspected or a looked after child has died (including cases where abuse or neglect is not known or suspected) or a child in a regulated setting or service has died (including cases where abuse or neglect is not known or suspected).
Ofsted received notification of 379 incidents between 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 that met the criteria in statutory guidance. This was a 2% decrease in the number from the previous year, 385, but 27% higher than 2013 to 2014 when 298 incidents were notified, suggesting that the number of notifications may have plateaued.
The Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) has the responsibility for deciding whether or not to initiate a Serious Case Review in response to an incident.
For 134 (35%) of the 379 incidents notified to Ofsted between 2015 to 2016, the relevant LSCB notified Ofsted that they had decided to initiate a SCR. This compares with 43% in the previous year, and 48% between 2013 to 2014.
“The pattern of notifications to Ofsted suggests that there has been a considerable reduction in the number and proportion of Serious Case Reviews that relate to cases of child death,” said the Ofsted report containing the statistics.
The report highlights that of the 134 SCRs initiated and notified to Ofsted between 2015 to 2016:
60 (45%) were initiated in response to the death of a child, compared with 90 (54%) in the previous year.
The number of SCRs that were initiated concerning an incident of serious harm to a child has reduced slightly from 76 between 2014 to 2015 to 74 between 2015 to 2016.
22 (16%) were initiated where a child was subject to a child protection plan at the time of the incident and 10 (7%) were initiated where a child was looked after by the local authority at the time of the incident
33 (25%) were initiated following incidents of non-accidental injury by a parent or carer and 17 (13%) followed incidents concerning neglect by a parent or carer
45 (34%) were for children who were aged less than one year old and 36 (27%) were for young people aged between 11 and 15 years old.
It emerged earlier this year that the government will abolish SCRs and introduce a new framework for lessons to be learned from cases where children have experienced serious harm.
Former president of the Association of Children’s Services Alan Wood carried out a review of Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards and multi-agency working and urged a “fundamental change”.
“Government should discontinue Serious Case Reviews, and establish an independent body at national level to oversee a new national learning framework for inquiries into child deaths and cases where children have experienced serious harm,” he said.
The government confirmed that it agreed with the finding and confirmed that it would replace the current system of SCRs and miscellaneous local reviews with a system of national and local reviews.