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4.7 Guidance for Staff: Reporting Serious Incidents and/or Child Deaths

RELATED CHAPTER

Notifications of Significant Events Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was substantially updated in January 2020 and should be re-read.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Internal Notifications
  3. Submission of a Serious Incident Notification to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review

    Appendix 1: Sudden or Unexplained Death - Strategy Meeting Agenda


1. Introduction

This document provides guidance to staff with regard to the reporting and notification of serious incidents and/or child deaths in Children’s Social Care. The guidance outlines:

  • The circumstances and/or events which require urgent internal reporting to the Service Director for Children’s Social Care and Senior Managers;
  • Statutory responsibilities for notifying the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel of serious child care incidents via a Serious Incident Notification.


2. Internal Notifications

In the event of any serious incident and/or child death and/or any incident involving a child that is likely to cause media attention, the Service Director and relevant Group Manager must to be notified via e-mail by the appropriate Children’s Service Manager as soon as possible. Such events may include:

  • A serious incident involving any child, including where a child has been seriously harmed;
  • A child or young person who has gone missing and is assessed as at risk of serious harm (this will always include looked after children);
  • The death of a child that was open to children’s social care;
  • The death of any child, where abuse or neglect are thought to have contributed to the child’s death (including suspected suicide);
  • The death of any child, in unusual circumstances or such as is likely to lead to media attention.

The Service Director will then decide whether Elected Members, the Chief Executive and/or colleagues in Communications & Marketing need to be informed. In some cases, there may also be a requirement on the County Council to submit a Serious Incident Notification to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, if the incident meets specified criteria (see Section 3, Submission of a Serious Incident Notification to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review).


3. Submission of a Serious Incident Notification to Ofsted, DfE and the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel

Local authorities in England must notify the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (the Panel) within 5 working days of becoming aware of a serious incident.

Incidents should be reported where the local authority knows or suspects that a child has been abused or neglected and:

  • The child dies (including suspected suicide) or is seriously harmed in the local authority’s area;
  • While normally resident in the local authority’s area, the child dies or is seriously harmed outside England.

The process for reporting a serious incident to the Panel are set out on GOV.UK. In order to use the GOV.UK online Serious Incident Notification Form, Group and Service Managers must be registered to do so via the Identity and Access Management System (IDAMS).

What is a Notifiable Incident?

A notifiable incident is an incident involving the care of a child which meets any of the following criteria:

  • A child has died (including cases of suspected suicide), and abuse or neglect is known or suspected;
  • A child has been seriously harmed and abuse or neglect is known or suspected;
  • A looked after child has died (including cases where abuse or neglect is not known or suspected); or
  • A child in a regulated setting or service has died (including cases where abuse or neglect is not known or suspected).

Serious harm includes (but is not limited to) serious and/or long-term impairment of a child’s mental health or intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development. It should also cover impairment of physical health. This is not an exhaustive list. When making decisions, judgment should be exercised in cases where impairment is likely to be long-term, even if this is not immediately certain. Even if a child recovers, including from a one-off incident, serious harm may still have occurred.

This definition is not exhaustive. In addition, even if a child recovers, this does not mean that serious harm cannot have occurred.

For the avoidance of doubt, if an incident meets the criteria for a Child Safeguarding Practice Review (see Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures) then it will also meet the criteria for a notifiable incident (above). There will, however, be notifiable incidents that do not proceed through to Child Safeguarding Practice Review.

Responsibility to Report

On deciding whether the criteria for a Serious Incident Notification has been met, it is the responsibility of the relevant Children’s Service Manager and Group Manager to jointly agree whether a notification is to be submitted to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes Serious Incident Notifications in the event of a child death. This is not the responsibility of colleagues in Safeguarding & Independent Review.

Where it is agreed that a notification is to be submitted to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, it is the responsibility of the Children’s Service Manager to complete the online "Notification of Serious Childcare Incident" form within the prescribed timescale of five working days.

Each time a Serious Incident Notification is sent to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, the Children’s Service Manager must ensure that the submission is also copied to the Service Director (steve.edwards@nottscc.gov.uk), Corporate Director (colin.pettigrew@nottscc.gov.uk) and the Child Death Administrator, Keith Miller (Keith.Miller2@nottscc.gov.uk).

When the Serious Incident Notification is submitted to Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel you will receive acknowledgement by way of email which contains a SIN reference number. This email should be forwarded to the Child Death Administrator.

Click here for the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System.

The Child Death Administrator will maintain a matrix of all Serious Incident Notifications. All Serious Incident Notifications which relate to a serious safeguarding case will be subject of a ‘Rapid Review’ which will be coordinated by the Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Partnership.


Appendix 1: Sudden or Unexplained Death - Strategy Meeting Agenda

Click here to view Appendix 1: Sudden or Unexplained Death - Strategy Meeting Agenda.

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