Two in three serious child abuse victims 'known to authorities'

More than two thirds of victims of some of the most serious child abuse cases had previous contact with social services, a report has found.

October 15, 2009 /

Some 68 per cent of the children involved in incidents leading to serious case reviews were known to the authorities and nearly 19 per cent were subject to a child protection plan, according to Ofsted.

The regulator also said that more than a third of 173 investigations conducted into the death or serious injury of children in 2008 -09 were ''inadequate''.

Just 23 per cent were rated ''good'' and 43 per cent ''adequate''.

Christine Gilbert, Ofsted's chief inspector, said the findings were ''of great concern''.

A serious case review should be carried out after a child dies or is seriously injured through abuse or neglect to see what lessons can be learned.

The 173 reviews completed between April 2008 and March 2009 relate to 219 children – some deal with several siblings in a family – and include 113 cases where a child died.

Today's findings are a slight improvement on last year, when Ofsted found that 40 per cent of serious case reviews were inadequate.

Ms Gilbert said: ''Serious case reviews have a vital part to play in the protection of children.

''There are encouraging signs of improvement identified in this report.

''Agencies and local authorities are looking more rigorously at their processes and practices to learn lessons from tragic incidents. Learning these lessons will help protect more children from harm.

''However, much more work needs to be done to address the remaining weaknesses and to ensure that lessons lead to improved outcomes for children and young people.

''It is of great concern that over a third of reviews are still judged inadequate.''

The initial inquiry following the death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly in Haringey, carried out in December, was one of those rated "inadequate", forcing a second review to be conducted.

Liberal Democrat children's spokesman David Laws called for serious case reviews to be published in full – at present only an executive summary is released.

He said: ''These figures do nothing to bring about confidence in our child protection system.

''It is shocking that so many of these reviews were found to be inadequate.

''It is wholly unacceptable that these reviews are still not published and crucial details about these cases remain secret.

''We need to know where things are going wrong and be confident that steps are being taken to make sure they won't happen again.''


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