Education & Family

Child death reports to be archived nationally by NSPCC

Daniel Pelka
Image caption The death of Daniel Pelka has once again raised the issue of child protection in the UK

Reports on the deaths from abuse of children in England, or the injuries suffered in such cases, are to be archived centrally in an attempt to avoid mistakes being repeated.

Recent cases such as the murder of Daniel Pelka have led to claims that lessons are not being learned.

The charity NSPCC is to become a national bank for reports known as serious case reviews.

It says the reports "raise the same issues again and again".

Daniel Pelka died in Coventry at the age of four at the hands of his mother and her partner, after being starved and beaten.

The pair were jailed for murder last month.

The serious case review into his death found opportunities to rescue him from his abusers had been missed, echoing reports into the deaths of the London toddler Peter Connelly, the Birmingham seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq and others.

The various authorities involved in each case were criticised for not speaking to each other or passing on information, and for being too trusting of what they were told by the children's parents or guardians.

'Too easily forgotten'

Serious case reviews are studies into deaths and serious injuries of children in England. They are carried out regionally by Local Safeguarding Children Boards where a child has died or been harmed and "abuse or neglect is known or suspected" and in some other circumstances.

Similar reviews are carried out in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

In England, they are currently published by the individual safeguarding boards.

Now, under an agreement between the NSPCC and the Association of Independent of Local Safeguarding Children Board Chairs (LSCB), all reports will be held on the NSPCC's website.

The charity's Chris Cloke said there was a feeling that lessons had not been learned from previous tragedies.

"At the moment there is no national repository for serious case reviews and it can be difficult for people to access them," he said.

"Sometimes they can be available for a few months and then disappear.

"There is a feeling that professionals are not learning from the reviews. They often come up with similar findings. There is a focus on them when they are published and then the media interest subsides and they can be too easily forgotten."

He said the plan had been under way for a while but the "appalling case" of Daniel Pelka had focused the minds of people on the need to learn from case reviews.

Children's Minister Edward Timpson said: "We must ensure that in the most tragic cases the same mistakes are not repeated - learning from serious case reviews is absolutely vital.

"NSPCC's approach is practical and accessible, and will help front-line staff learn from experience and improve practice."

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