In the context of child protection, a Significant Case Review is a multi-agency process for establishing the facts of, and learning lessons from, a situation where a child has died or been significantly harmed. Significant Case Reviews should be seen in the context of a culture of continuous improvement and should focus on learning and reflection on day-to-day practices, and the systems within which those practices operate.
Who is this guidance for?
This guidance is primarily for people who sit on the Child Protection Committee (CPCs). Protecting children and young people is an inter-agency and inter-disciplinary responsibility carried out by CPCs. The CPC, on behalf of the Chief Officers Group, is responsible for deciding whether a significant case review (SCR) is warranted, and for agreeing how the review is conducted. Ownership of the process and any SCR reports generated by the process ultimately belong to the CPC.
Initial case review (ICR)
The CPC may not immediately appreciate that a case is significant. An Initial Case Review (ICR) is, therefore, an opportunity for the CPC to consider relevant information, determine the course of action and recommend whether an SCR or other response is required. The ICR process is summarised in the box below. An ICR should not be escalated beyond what is proportionate, taking account of the severity and complexity of the case and the process and its timescales, should not detract from agencies taking whatever urgent action is required to protect any other children and young people who may be at risk. Findings from the Audit and Analysis of Significant Case Reviews indicate that an ICR should always be undertaken.
CPCs should develop their own local operating protocol for handling ICRs. This should identify who has delegated authority to accept the initial notification, instruct any further information-gathering and make a decision on whether to proceed to an SCR. Each local ICR operating protocol should be agreed with the Chief Officers Group. It should firmly reflect this guidance but retain sufficient flexibility to suit local structures.
Where time limits are referred to it is important that they are adhered to. If there is good reason for delay, the report should record the reason for that delay.