Child protection in Northern Ireland Case management reviews

A case management review (CMR) takes place after a child dies or is seriously injured and abuse or neglect is thought to be involved. It looks at lessons than can help prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

Other parts of the UK have their own systems in place to learn from cases. In England they are called serious case reviews; in Scotland, significant case reviews and in Wales, child practice reviews.

A CMR should take place if there are serious concerns about how services worked (or failed to work) with a family and a child has died or been significantly harmed and

  • abuse or neglect is known, or suspected, to have been involved
  • the child, or a sibling, was at any point in their life on the  child protection register (CPR) and subject to a care protection plan
  • the child was in care

CMRs may also take place where effective working has taken place and outstanding positive learning can be gained to improve practice.

What is significant harm and how is it determined

"Harm" is the "ill treatment or the impairment of the health or development of the child".

It is determined "significant" by "comparing a child's health and development with what might be reasonably expected of a similar child".

Although there is no absolute criteria for determining whether or not harm is "significant", local authorities such as social services, police, education and health agencies work with family members to assess the child, and a decision is made based on their professional judgement using the gathered evidence.

 Legal definitions for the 4 nations:

Carrying out a case management review

The SBNI follows statutory guidance for conducting a significant case review.

The SBNI chair is responsible for making sure the whole process is handled well – from establishing how CMRs will be done through to sharing the learning points from reviews in a timely way.

The SBNI chair will also establish a register which will include:

  • the details of each CMR undertaken
  • what each CMR found
  • the way in which the learning is shared in each CMR
  • how the learning is put into action
  • any follow-up action taken by the SBNI to ensure that learning has been applied.

It is important that CMRs are completed to the standard set by the statutory guidance.

Publishing case management reviews

CMRs are not currently published.

Published case reviews in the UK

Case reviews published in 2016

A chronological list of the executive summaries or full overview reports of serious case reviews, significant case reviews or multi-agency child practice reviews published in 2016.
View the list

Case reviews published in 2015

A chronological list of the executive summaries or full overview reports of serious case reviews, significant case reviews or multi-agency child practice reviews published in 2015.
View the list

Case reviews published in 2014

A chronological list of the executive summaries or full overview reports of serious case reviews, significant case reviews or multi-agency child practice reviews published in 2014.
View the list

National case review repository

In collaboration with the Association of Independent LSCB Chairs, we store published case reviews from 2013 - 2015 in our library catalogue.

Search case reviews

Case reviews published in 2013

A chronological list of the executive summaries or full overview reports of serious case reviews, significant case reviews or multi-agency child practice reviews published in 2013.
View the list

How lessons are learnt

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) is responsible for ensuring that the learning from case management reviews is shared and used to strengthen the child protection system in Northern Ireland. To help do this the DHSSPS is empowered to periodically publish an overview report of the key themes and learning from case management reviews.

The first overview report, Translating learning into action, co-authored by the NSPCC and Queen's University Belfast, was published in 2013.

DHSSPS (2014) Guidance to Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI) (PDF). Belfast: DHSSPS.

Case reviews

Find out how to find published reports and what learning comes from case reviews around safeguarding children.
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