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Background to Serious Case Reviews (SCRs)

Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) were initiated in 2006, as a result of the Children’s Act 2004 and Working Together 2006. One of the main statutory responsibilities was for the boards to undertake Serious Case Reviews; when a child had been abused or neglected, had been significantly harmed or died and multi-agencies were involved. The SCR investigations were not about individual blame but rather were about learning lessons with a view to preventing future tragedies.

As of April 2019 LSCB’s were abolished according to the Children and Social Work Act 2017 and Working Together 2018, and new Safeguarding Partnership Boards put in their place. SCRs have changed to Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews (CSPR), the criteria for undertaking a CSPR has been slightly amended from the SCR criteria and rapid reviews have been introduced.

The Thematic Review

The focus for the review was solely on ‘professional practice’ and as such other factors such as parental themes, child themes and external factors were not analysed in the report.
Both the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire electronic recording systems were accessed during October – November 2019 and either full SCRs or executive summaries, from 2006 to 2019, were located. Each report/summary was read in turn and all professional themes referred to within the SCRs were noted.


From the period 2006 until 2019 Peterborough Safeguarding Children’s Board completed a total of thirteen SCR’s and Cambridgeshire Safeguarding Children’s Board completed a total of fourteen SCR’s. Across the county twenty seven SCRs were undertaken during that time period.
In 85% of SCR’s during this time period, it was ascertained that professional’s either made poor assessments/risk assessments or they were not completed, in 63% of SCR’s there was no reference made to the lived experience of the child and in 63% of SCRs practitioners lacked professional curiosity.

Venn diagram showing top three themes within local SCRs

In the Venn diagram above the top three recurring professional themes, found within SCRs across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, are featured. It is interesting to note that in 11 SCRs (41%) all three top professional themes (i.e. the lack of; assessment / risk, the lived experience of the child and professional curiosity) were found.

These themes are similar findings to the national research as referenced within Peter Sidebotham et al (2016) Pathways to Harm, Pathways to Protection, Triennial analysis of SCRs from 2011 – 2014 and other SCR research.

A pictorial chart containing of all of the practitioner themes found within the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough SCR’s can be found on the third page of this briefing.

Further Information:

Safeguarding Partnership Board Website:

Safeguarding Partnership Board Training

Briefings and training toolbox slides

Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews / Serious Case Reviews

Latest Termly Workshop slides on SCR / CSPR


Children and Social Work Act 2017: HMSO

HM Government (2006). Working Together to safeguard children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

HM Government (2018). Working Together to safeguard children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Sidebotham. P, Brandon. M, Bailey. S, Belderson. P, Dodsworth. J, Garstang. J, Harrison. E, Retzer, A. and Sorensen.P.(2016). Pathways to protection: a triennial analysis of serious case reviews 2011 to 2014. Department for Education: University of Warwick : University of East Anglia

September 2020


Pictorial chart of professional themes in SCRs

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