Project dates: 1 May 2015- 31 March 2016

Research team: Prof Marian Brandon, Sue Bailey, Dr Penny Sorensen, Dr Jane Dodsworth, Dr Pippa Belderson, Dr Peter Sidebotham & Dr Jo Garstang (Warwick University)

Funder: Department for Education


The death of children through abuse or neglect is of great concern to the public, the media, to government ministers and of course to practitioners working with or known to the child and their family. The national analyses of local enquiries into such cases (serious case reviews) provide important learning for all those working with children and families as well as national level policy implications. This will be the fifth consecutive national review undertaken by the same team led by Prof. Marian Brandon from CRCF and the third review carried out in collaboration with Dr Peter Sidebotham from Warwick University.

The primary aim of the study is to continue to provide child protection professionals and others with evidence of key issues and challenges in cases where children have died, or been seriously harmed and there are concerns about how agencies have worked together. In addition, the study will endeavour to provide the government with evidence of what is really changing as a result of their reforms, and to identify areas where further change may be required to support organisations to learn from SCRs and keep children safe.


The study uses our existing quantitative and qualitative methodology allowing careful comparisons of themes and trends with previous biennial reviews including updating our database established in 2005 of over 800 reviews. The study is planned in three interconnected parts:

  1. Themes and trends across all 2011-14 reports, and from a qualitative sub sample of 50-60 overview reports, drawing out implications for policy makers and practitioners
  2. Commentary on themes and trends over the last ten + years (2003-2014)
  3.  A review of recommendations made in SCRs and their implementation

Impact planned: the findings from the study will be made available to the Minister, to the National SCR Panel. In addition a summary of the learning will be sent to each Local Children Safeguarding Board and there will be summaries for different professional groups within the LSCB and particularly: social work, health, education and the police. The summaries will be co-produced by the research team and the organisation Research in Practice and will be free to download from websites.