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Serious Case Review

Updated March 2014


In relation to children:

A Serious Case Review must always be initiated when:

  1. Abuse or Neglect of a child is known or suspected; AND
  2. Either:
    1. The child has died; OR
    2. 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.

Thus cases meeting either of these criteria must always trigger a Serious Case Review:

  1. Abuse or Neglect of a child is known or suspected AND the child has died (including by suicide); OR
  2. Abuse or Neglect of a child is known or suspected AND 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. In this situation, unless it is clear that there are no concerns about inter-agency working, a Serious Case Review must be commissioned.

Additionally, even if these criteria are not met a Serious Case Review should always be carried out when:

  • A child dies in custody, in police custody, on remand or following sentencing, in a Young Offender Institution, in a secure training centre or a secure children's home or where the child was detained under the Mental Health Act 2005. 

The purpose of the Review is to establish whether there are lessons to be learned from the case, identify what those lessons are and how they will be acted upon and improve inter-agency working as a result.

In relation to adults:

A Serious Case Review is a process for all partner agencies to identify the lessons that can be learned from particularly complex or serious Safeguarding Adults case, where an Adult at Risk (Vulnerable Adult) has died or been seriously injured and abuse or Neglect has been suspected. The panel recommends changes to improve practice and services in the light of these lessons. The aim of the process is to learn lessons and make improvements, rather than blaming individual people or organisations. It relies on a spirit of openness to learning, about what went well, as well as what could be improved.