As we’ve previously reported a Serious Case Review (SCR) concerned with the Rajenthiram brothers Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) case was due to be published in July of this year. It is now November and we now learn that that the SCR will not now be published.
SCRs should be carried out by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) for every case where abuse/neglect is known or suspected and either ; a child has died or; a child has been seriously harmed and there are concerns about how organisations or professionals worked together to protect the child. Since 2010 there has been a requirement to publish SCRs in full . Accordingly Wirral’s LSCB website states:
Findings and recommendations from the Serious Case Review or SCR , will be published in full in a report , which will be publicly available on this website . The purpose of the SCR will be to learn from what happened in individual cases so that future tragedies can be prevented. SCR-Wirral
Whilst the National Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) website says this about publishing SCRs:
The final SCR report, and the LSCBs response to the findings, must be published on the LSCB website for a minimum of 12 months and should be available on request. This is important for sharing lessons learnt and good practice in writing and publishing SCRs.
SCR reports should be written in such a way that publication will not be likely to harm the welfare of any children or vulnerable adults involved in the case.
The final report should:
- provide a sound analysis of what happened in the case, and why, and what needs to happen in order to reduce the risk of recurrence
- be written in plain English and in a way that can be easily understood by both professionals and the public and
- be suitable for publication without needing to be amended or redacted.
The LSCB should send a copy of the final SCR to the National Panel of Independent Experts at least one week before publication. NSPCC
However Dr Maggie Atkinson , chair of Wirral’s LSCB said this week of the Rajenthiram case :
“This Serious Case Review examines – in great detail – the circumstances surrounding the sexual abuse of a child. It was my view, as chair of the safeguarding board and entirely independent of the council and all public agencies involved, that there was no way to publish the report which did not lead to a high risk of this child being identified.I could not countenance that risk. It would be morally wrong, and absolutely illegal, to risk identifying the victim of a sexual crime.My opinion was ratified by legal advice from barristers and my assessment on this matter was specifically sent to, and agreed by the Department for Education. I do agree that it is important the lessons which were learnt as a result of this tragic case are in the public domain and, to ensure they are, I had already requested that a report explaining the recommendations coming from the review – alongside the work which has been done since to address them – was published. This report will be published in the coming weeks.”
Whilst we agree that protecting the anonymity of victims is paramount we can’t help wondering who Dr Atkinson and the LSCB are actually protecting here. Oh and don’t come the ‘morally wrong’ and ‘absolutely illegal’ with us – this is Wirral Council we’re talking about and it’s never stopped them before – unless of course it suits them.
It should be remembered that one of the (many ) criticisms previously levelled at Wirral’s LSCB by Ofsted in their damning report ,which led to a rating of local Children’s Services to be rated ‘inadequate’, was that it was not sufficiently ‘independent’ from Wirral Council and other agencies involved in child protection. What’s more isn’t talk of protecting victims of CSE a bit like closing the cornershop door after perpetrators have been convicted? Where was the protection from organisations and professionals when victims of CSE needed it ? That ,of course, should be the main theme of this secret SCR and based on what’s gone before who can blame us for thinking that this lurch to secrecy is more about protecting the reputations of the powerful than protecting the anonymity of the powerless?