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Scottish Significant Case Review Conference held in Glasgow

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Over 100 of Scotland’s practitioners working in the area of child protection are today, (Thursday, November 11), attending a conference at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall which focuses on Significant Case Reviews – Making Them Fit For Purpose.

The conference, which will promote best practice, is the first of its kind to be held in Scotland and will be attended by speakers from across the UK including the Scottish Government, who last year commissioned the University of Stirling based Multi-Agency Resource Service (MARS) to come forward with recommendations to improve the Significant Case Review process in Scotland.

Recent child death cases in the UK and Scotland have brought into sharp focus the issue of how best to review child deaths and serious cases and the conference will examine how in Scotland, we can make significant case reviews ‘fit for purpose’ by learning from other areas throughout the UK.

Chaired by award winning writer and broadcaster, Ruth Wishart and supported by the Scottish Government, the conference is organised by the MARS, and The Scottish Child Care and Protection Network (SCCPN), both of which are based at the University of Stirling, in partnership with The University of Edinburgh/NSPCC Centre for UK-wide Learning in Child Protection (CLiCP).

There is currently no central co-ordination or collation of Significant Case Reviews and there has been no analysis of the findings from SCRs in Scotland as there has been in England and Wales. There is also thought to be a substantial variation in how reviews are being conducted as well as a number of shared concerns around quality assurance and reviewing recommendations.

At the request of the Scottish Government, a working group, chaired by the MARS Director, Elizabeth Smith, was set up to draw on recent research and practice learning across the UK to inform future developments in Scotland and help Child Protection Committees (CPCs).  The Working Group has made 10 specific recommendations to the Scottish Government, including that it should commission an audit and analysis of all SCRs undertaken since 2007 to provide an understanding of the relevant issues for practice.

Elizabeth Smith, Director, Multi Agency Resource Service, said: “Learning from error needs to be balanced with learning from success.  This conference, the first in Scotland to examine the Significant Case Review process, will provide an opportunity for practitioners to think about the culture we work in, how we can be reasonable and proportionate in conducting SCRs in Scotland and how we celebrate success. It’s an opportunity for Scotland’s practitioners to thoroughly examine the SCR process and the part they play in this.”

Minister for Children and Early Years, Adam Ingram said: “The death of any child is a tragedy but even more so if that death could have been prevented. Significant Case Reviews enable us to look back in detail at the circumstances surrounding a child’s death or serious injury, review the support and interventions offered to help that child and their family and also the steps taken to protect the child from harm. They also enable us to examine whether the help given in any way fell short of what that child should have been able to expect and see if there are lessons to be learned to better protect children.

“As part of our ongoing work to further strengthen our child protection procedures, the Scottish Government commissioned a MARS-led external group to come forward with recommendations to improve SCRs in Scotland. I welcome the group’s recommendations which will help improve consistency and practice, and help Child Protection Committees build confidence and capacity in undertaking SCRs. The recommendations include a strengthening of the role of inspection bodies in reviewing the quality of SCRs, the development of practice guidelines for conducting reviews and writing reports, proposals for identifying and addressing training needs, and the need for further work in relation to the publication/accessibility of SCRs. The intention is for these key changes to be taken forward by Spring 2011.”

Notes to editors:

  • Multi Agency Resource Service (MARS) aims to support professionals and agencies working in child protection by developing communities of expertise and sharing practice knowledge across Scotland.
  • The Scottish Child Care and Protection Network (SCCPN) is based within the Department of Applied Social Science at The University of Stirling and aims to disseminate policy and practice messages from existing national and international research evidence.
  • CliCP conducts research and provides analysis and commentary on child protection policy across the UK, with particular reference to the impact devolution has had on the development of policy in each nation.
  • Conference speakers include Brigid Daniel, Professor of Social Work at the University of Stirling and founding member of SCCPN, Sharon Vincent, the University of Edinburgh/NSPCC UK-Centre for Learning in Child Protection, John Devaney, Queen’s University Belfast and Wendy Rose, Open University , Marian Brandon, University of East Anglia, Moira McKinnon, Principal Officer Child Protection Glasgow, Philip Raines, Head of Child Protection Policy Team and Anne Black, Independent Social Work Consultant.
  • The circumstances which might warrant an SCR include; abuse and neglect known or suspected to be a factor in the child’s death, the child is on, or has been on the Child Protection Register, or a sibling is or was on the CPR, the death is by suicide or accidental death, the death is by alleged murder, culpable homocide, reckless conduct, or an act of violence, or the child was looked after by the local authority. In addition to this, the incident, or accumulation of incidents (a case) gives rise to serious concerns about professional or service involvement or lack of involvement.

Issued on behalf of SCCPN / MARS. For further information, or for an interview with Elizatheth Smith, MARS Director, please contact Lianne Smith, SCCPN Events & Communications Manager on 01786 466300 / 07758 207711

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