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When a child known to social services is injured or dies

By Jane Aldred

Published In: Child Care

The tragic death of Bronson Battersby made for very sad reading. It’s a matter of public knowledge that Bronson was known to social care and was classed as a vulnerable child. In circumstances where a child has died or been seriously injured, and this may have been caused by abuse or neglect it is deemed a Serious Child Safeguarding Incident.

Image of hands protecting family cut-outs

So, what does this mean?

 Under the Children Act 2004, if a council in England knows or suspects that a child has been abused or neglected in its area, then they must notify to the National Safeguarding Panel. If something then happens to the child, i.e. they die or are seriously injured, the local authority, health officials and police will undertake a rapid review within 15 working days.

 In the case of Bronson Battersby, the police have also referred themselves to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC). The reason for this is because social services contacted the police twice about the child’s welfare before they found him. In some cases, this is necessary to allow for learnings and development in policing as well as social services.

What is the purpose of rapid reviews?

By carrying out a rapid review it is the aim to identify areas where improvements to procedures and practices need to be made, including any immediate actions needed. It will also focus on how different agencies work collectively to provide effective safeguarding for vulnerable children and young people. It also informs whether there is a need to go ahead with a more in-depth local child safeguarding practice review (LCSPR).

What can be learned from these reviews?

Whilst every case review has its own tragic background, each individual review contributes to the wider picture so key risk factors can be identified and recommendations for practitioners can be made to avoid future loss of young lives.

If social services become involved with your family and you need advice or support, contact our experienced childcare solicitors - call 0800 138 0458 or email


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Jane has worked in the legal sector for 31 years.  She is a Solicitor in our Child Care department.


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