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Last updated: 03.12.19

A Guide to Child Practice Reviews

What is a Child Practice Review (CPR)?

Throughout the UK, formal inquiries are carried out in order to understand and analyse cases where abuse or neglect is known or suspected and a child has died, or been seriously harmed. Each region has its own name for its local inquiries – Child Practice Reviews are relevant to Wales. Please select another region to find out about its type of inquiry: Northern Ireland, Scotland and England.


Child abuse and neglect

Reviews are required when children come to serious harm following abuse and neglect. Lord Laming (2009) stated that reviews are an important tool for learning lessons, but despite the opportunities reviews which provide to improve child safeguarding practice, child abuse is still occurring. 

In recognition of shortcomings in child protection, which were highlighted by the tragic deaths of Baby P, Victoria Climbié, Daniel Pelka, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the government has developed new review protocols and guidance to provide an increasingly robust framework to reduce the risk of child abuse set out in ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (2018).

Here we intend to help you understand the foundations for current policy, whilst highlighting where child protection has failed to enable you to support your professional curiosity and efficacy as a frontline practitioner.


Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs)

Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards were established under section 134 of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014.

Functions

LSCBs aim to:

  • Cooperate with other Safeguarding Boards and the National Board
  • Develop and review procedures for Safeguarding Boards to increase their effectiveness
  • Follow national policies and guidance provided by the National Board
  • Undertake relevant reviews, audits and investigations
  • Make recommendations and ensure these are being followed within the Board
  • Ensure appropriate training is available for anyone working to improve child protection
  • Work in partnership with other organisations to safeguard and protect the welfare of children in its area.

Locate your Local LSCB.


National Independent Safeguarding Board for Wales (National Board)

The National Independent Safeguarding Board was set up under the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014. The Board has three primary duties to:

  • Provide support and advice to Safeguarding Boards with a view to ensuring they are effective
  • Report on the effectiveness of arrangements to safeguard children and adults in Wales
  • Make recommendations to the Welsh ministers as to how those arrangements could be improved.

Every Local Safeguarding Board (LSB) (for adults and children) must provide copies of reports following the completion of practice reviews. This enables the National Board to produce an Annual Report highlighting the work that LSBs are completing and identify areas for improvement in adult and child safeguarding practice.


Child Practice Reviews (CPRs)

Child Practice Reviews (CPRs) are led by LSCBs in accordance with The Safeguarding Boards (Functions and Procedures) Wales Regulations 2015.

CPRs aim to:

  • Identify any steps that can be taken by the LSCB to improve multi-agency child protection practice
  • Develop more competent and confident multi-agency practice
  • Strengthens accountability of managers to take responsibility for the culture in which their staff work
  • Identify causative agents of abuse and neglect to make recommendations for future practice and improvements.

Following a CPR, the LSCB is required to hold a multi-agency learning event and produce a practice review report indicating recommendations and action (if any). 

CPRs for your area are published on LSCB websites.


CPRs: concise and extended

Concise reviews

When the LSCB should conduct a CPR:

  • Abuse or neglect of a child is known or suspected

And the child has:

  • Died; or
  • Sustained potentially life-threatening injury; or
  • Sustained serious and permanent impairment of health or development;
  • The child was neither on the child protection register nor a looked after child on any date during the six months preceding:
    • the date the abuse occurred; or
    • The date on which a local authority or a relevant partner identifies that a child has sustained serious and permanent impairment of health and development.

Extended reviews

A LSCBs must conduct an extended child practice review in any of the following cases where abuse of a child is known or suspected and the child has:

  • Died; or
  • Sustained potentially life-threatening injury; or
  • Sustained serious and permanent impairment of health or development; and
  • The child was on the child protection register and/or was a looked after child on any date during the six months preceding:
    • the date the abuse occurred; or
    • The date on which a local authority or a relevant partner identifies that a child has sustained serious and permanent impairment of health and development.

Extended reviews follow the same processes and timescales as a concise review.


Questions assisting effective CPRs

  • What happened? Overview of the case to establish the facts.
  • What could have been done to prevent abuse and/or neglect? What actions could have been taken to stop the abuse from happening?
  • Is there typicality in the contextual factors and the responses of agencies? Are there similar challenges or difficulties within agencies that could have contributed to the abuse and/or neglect?
  • What changes to the way in which agencies operate could help to prevent abuse/neglect? Identifying actions that could improve child safeguarding procedures to reduce the risk of harm to children and young people.
  • Have agencies changed their practices as a result of this learning? What changes in organisations have been made to support improvement in child safeguarding practice?

Public Inquiries and Serious Case Reviews: Foundations for Change

There have been many public inquiries and serious case reviews in England highlighting areas for improvement and development in child safeguarding policies and practice.

Some high-profile child protection cases have been significant in driving change and improvement. Select each one for more information.

Public Inquiry:  Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman (Sir Michael Bichard, 2004)

Public Inquiry: Victoria Climbié (Lord Laming, 2003)

Serious Case Review: Baby P (2009)

Serious Case Review: Daniel Pelka (2013)

The NSPCC have put together a National Case review repository detailing cases from across the UK, you can access the repository here.

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