Project: Biennial Analysis of Serious Case Reviews 2003-5

Funder: Department of Children Schools and Families

Dates: 2006 – 2007

Research Team: Professor Marian Brandon, Dr Pippa Belderson, Catherine Warren, Professor David Howe, Dr Ruth Gardiner, Dr Jane Dodsworth and Jane Black

This national overview analysis of serious case reviews (cases of child death or serious injury through abuse) was conducted to draw out themes and trends so that lessons can be learnt from these cases to inform both policy and practice. The 161 reviews studied from all England were notified during the period April 2003- March 2005. A total of 47% of the children were aged under 1, but 25% were over 11 years including 9% who were over 16. Many older children were ‘hard to help' and failed by agencies. In families where children suffered long term neglect, children's social care often failed to take account of past history and adopted the ‘start again syndrome'. The families of very young children who were physically assaulted (including those with head injuries) tended to be in contact with universal services or adult services rather than children's social care. The study showed that staff working in universal services and with adults need to prioritise children as well as adults.


Brandon M, Belderson J, Warren C, Howe, D, Gardner R, Dodsworth J, and Black J. (2008) Analysing Child Deaths and Serious Injury through Abuse and Neglect: What can we Learn?' Click here to view the full report.

Brandon, M., Belderson, P., Warren, C., Gardner, R., Howe, D., Dodsworth, J., and Black, J.,(2008) ‘The preoccupation with thresholds in cases of child death or serious injury through abuse and neglect, Child Abuse Review, 17(5) 289-364. Click here to view the full report.

Brandon, M., (2009) ‘Child fatality or serious injury through maltreatment: Making sense of outcomes', Children and Youth Services Review, 31:1107-1112. Click here to view the full report.