VoiCeS Northumberland would like to wish you a Peaceful New Year

Serious Case Reviews

One of the most important functions of the Northumberland Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) under Regulation 5 of the Local Safeguarding Children Boards Regulations 2006 is to undertake reviews of serious cases and advise the authority and their Board partners on lessons to be learned.

Criteria for a Serious Case Review

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013

A Serious Case review should be conducted when:

  • A child has died (including death by suicide) AND abuse or neglect is known or suspected of being a factor in the death.
A Serious Case review will be considered when:
  • A child sustains a potentially life threatening injury and serious or permanent impairment  of physical and/or mental health and development  through abuse or neglect; or
  • A child has been subjected to serious sexual abuse
  • A parent has been murdered and a domestic homicide review is being initiated under the Domestic Violence Act 2004
  • A child has been seriously harmed following a violent assault perpetrated by another child or an adult

AND the case gives rise to concerns about the way in which local professionals and services worked together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This includes inter-agency and or inter-disciplinary working

Individual Professional and Single Agency Responsibilities
Any professional or agency may refer a case to the Northumberland Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) to request that a Case Review Panel be convened to consider a case, if they believe that there are important lessons for intra and/or inter-agency working to be learned from the case and the case falls within any of the above criteria.

It is expected that that any such case will be discussed with the agency lead for safeguarding children,  prior to referral, who should act as a single point of contact for the NSCB in this matter, and provide the evidence upon which the referral is being made.

Within health agencies any referral should be discussed with the Designated Nurse for Safeguarding Children in Northumberland CCG.
It is not a requirement to inform parents or young people about this referral to NSCB and they should not be informed at this point.

Following referral the NSCB Case Review Committee will consider the case, under current national and local guidelines and make a recommendation to the Chair of NSCB.

The final decision to undertake a Serious Case Review rests with the Chair of NSCB and every decision is reviewed by a National Panel appointed by HM government.

If the decision is made not to undertake a Serious Case Review, NSCB may undertake another review under the guidance outlined in Working Together 2013 and the NSCB Learning and Improvement Framework.

Agency policies and procedures should include the process for referring cases to the panel with a clear indication of the identity of the single point of contact.

Contacts for referral to NSCB:
Steve Day  Safeguarding Standards Manager and Principal Social Worker
Linda Lincoln: Designated Nurse Safeguarding Children.
Richard Burrows: Chair NSCB


Do you know what happens following the death of a child?

Child Death Overview Panel Workshop 

  • January 23rd 9.30am – 11.30am: Cramlington
  • February 13th 9.30 – 11.30am: North Shields

Child death overview panels (CDOPs) are responsible for reviewing information on all unexpected child deaths. They record preventable child deaths and make recommendations to ensure that similar deaths are prevented in the future. 

This free workshop is to raise awareness of the process to be followed when a child dies and to consider the support needs of the practitioners and other children within the organisation, and explores:

  • The Child Death Overview Process
  • The role of the LSCB Child Death Overview Panel
  • Lessons learned from reviews
  • Potential support needs of practitioners and other children/students
  • Sources of support for families and further information

Audience: Practitioners from North Tyneside and Northumberland  including in particular; services for children and adults, Police, coroners, Ambulance Service, those working with children with complex needs and Designated people in schools
To book a place: If you are employed by Northumberland County Council go to Learning Together and sign up for a place via the brochure page. For all other agencies please apply via the email address below. 

For assistance contact Rachel Sweeney 01670 623164 or e-mail


FREE* Designated Person for Safeguarding Training

When: 4th February 2015
Time: 09:30 to 12:30
Where: Cramlington

The role of the Designated Person for Child Protection is crucial to voluntary and community groups to protect children in their care. When staff or volunteers express concerns about a child, the DP has to make key decisions about when to make a referral, when to discuss these concerns with parents, how to support the child and the staff through the process of referral.
Learning outcomes:

  • Develop an understanding of the role and remit of the designated person
  • Explore thresholds of concern and appropriate responses using the Northumberland FACT Thresholds document.
  • Identify the stages of the referral process and the part you and your organisations play in it.
  • Recognise the principles of information sharing
  • Share good practice in safeguarding children in the VCS
  • Recognise responsibilities and procedures for managing allegations againststaff/volunteers.
  • Identify any further training needs.

Who should attend:
Anyone holding the Role of Designated Person for Child Protection in a VCS organisation or group.
To book your place please contact Jennifer at VoiCeS on 01665 713109 or email her at
*This training is free to VCS organisations in Northumberland, but non attendance will be charged at a delegate fee of £50 for half a day.


HR's Role in Safeguarding Children - A Report from NSPCC 

The focus on the role of HR in safeguarding children has increased dramatically in the past 10 years. Recently this issue has been brought into sharp focus again by cases such as teacher William Vahey who was found to have previous child abuse convictions but went on to gain a position at an elite London school.

HR has played a much bigger part in helping to safeguard children over the past decade, with many organisations changing their systems to ensure they are employing appropriate people to work with children. But sadly we are still seeing the consequences of poor practice and we know these can be devastating. 

The harrowing murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells highlighted the need for change in systems as early as 2002. The Bichard Inquiry into the case of these two school girls revealed a stark number of HR failures in relation to Ian Huntley. Previous investigations into the college caretaker for sexual crimes hadn’t been identified by police checks, references weren’t obtained correctly and Huntley’s work history hadn’t been checked for accuracy.

After this information came to light, more robust systems were implemented nationally, including that all applications for positions in schools should be subject to a requirement for enhanced disclosure criminal record checks. 

We at the NSPCC were also keen to help stop adults such as Ian Huntley from working with children – which is why we now work with organisations to explore how they can make their HR practice safer. We know that safer recruitment is about much more than obtaining a satisfactory criminal record check on candidates, which is why we offer consultancy services to review policies, procedures, and practice, and work with organisations to better understand their culture and the impact this has on safeguarding. We offer advanced interviewing techniques and specialist courses that help you to adequately risk assess any disclosures. 

Research indicates that not all child abusers actively target organisations for that purpose – some are opportunistic and some are situational – and that is why taking a robust approach to safeguarding through HR is so important.

Those extra checks can tell you so much more about a person; it is about ensuring that the information you have about a candidate is consistent, can be verified and is accurate. It is about assessing whether a candidate has the right attitude, values and behaviours to work with children. And it is about employers providing staff with a thorough induction and training to help them understand exactly what is expected of them. 

But we also need to remember that safeguarding goes beyond the recruitment stage. In 2013, Jeremy Forrest, a teacher at a secondary school, was convicted of child abduction and sexual activity with a child. Staff at the school had failed to act on the concerns of pupils or identify his inappropriate behaviour.

Similarly in 2012, Nigel Leat, a primary school teacher, was convicted of 36 sexual offences against children at the school where he taught. The serious case review that followed found that the school’s management had failed to act on the concerns of staff and parents about his inappropriate behaviour with pupils.

It is vitally important that those we are trusting to work with children and young people will keep them safe. By considering a safeguarding perspective through HR you can ensure you are doing everything possible to protect the children and young people you work with. 

If you would like more information about how the NSPCC can help with safeguarding call 0808 800 5000 (option 3) or

Anyone who has concerns about a child or wants advice can contact the NSPCC for free 24 hours a day, by calling 0808 800 5000, emailing, texting 88858 or using an online reporting form. They can choose to remain anonymous if they wish.


Child Sexual Exploitation

In preparation for a more detailed briefing in the New Year on working with Child Sexual Exploitation tri.x have produced a short overview of some of the more recent reports on this topic.

There have been quite a number of high profile reports on Child Sexual Exploitation highlighted by the media, looking at the experience of children that have been sexually exploited across the country.

These reports make distressing reading and can feel quite overwhelming at times.

The problem is not a new one but is now being looked at in a very different way. It is widespread and whether they have published a report or not, all areas will have children that have been affected. The abuse that has taken place is horrific and often the response has been inadequate but lessons are being learned and practice is continuously developing.

It is important that the learning from these reports is taken on board and that each area continues to develop a response that is both practical and relevant to the children in their area but that is also cohesive with the areas around it, as the children will often cross local authority boundaries so intelligence and information needs to be shared and practice consistent.

It presents a huge challenge and will involve a long term programme from continuing to raise public and professionals awareness, prevention, coordinated information and intelligence sharing, targeted work of those most at risk and the places they go, perpetrator disruption and an appropriate child centered response to that is both practical and therapeutic in its nature. This is not easy and comes at a time when resources are already increasingly stretched but there are lots of encouraging signs that this learning is being taken on board.

You may already have taken the opportunity to read some of these reports but just in case here is a quick overview of some of the more recent ones that you might want to be aware of.

The Jay Report an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham is very sobering reading.

Barnardo’s Scotland have produced a very useful guide (Lessons for Scotland from the Jay Report into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham: A Barnardo’s Scotland Discussion Paper) to some of the learning from the Jay Reports in condensed format. Anne Coffey’s report Real Voices – Child Sexual Exploitation in Greater Manchester is very helpful and particularly looks at the important area of prevention and how things may be better managed in the future.

The Children Commissioner completed a two-year Inquiry a little while ago into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups which provides an excellent insight into the experience of children who have been affected. Barnardo’s continue their important work and research into this area which can be found here as well as researching the experience of boys who have been sexually exploited.They have produced an info graphic comparing the experience of young people in their research based on gender which helps highlight that boys are also at risk.

And finally Ofsted have recently produced a Thematic Report, The Sexual Exploitation of Children: It Couldn't Happen Here, Could It? , which sets out to evaluate the current effectiveness of the response to CSE across a number of local authority areas. The report raises a number of concerns particularly emphasising the relevance of children who go missing and strongly suggesting that the DfE should review and update its 2009 Guidance Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation.

A lot of hard lessons have been learnt since the guidance was produced and it is time for it to be updated. It is impossible to cover all the reports that have been produced on this area so this is just a snapshot but it is a topic we will be returning to again.


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