Serious case reviews: Learning to use expertise

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While undertaking an analysis of 20 serious case reviews for the Welsh Assembly Government, the authors became aware of important, largely unexplored, practice issues with implications for training, service delivery and the role of the lead professional. The reviews were studied using a ‘layered reading’ methodology to ensure that emerging themes were grounded entirely in the reports. In looking beyond the familiar recurring themes and practice failings, findings emerged about the use of expertise in its widest sense. The need for more skilled use of expertise was identified, from external specialists and child protection specialists, and from children, siblings and parents. Professionals from agencies who contribute less routinely to the process of safeguarding children should be consulted as experts and be empowered to play a fuller part. Consultation could often be used prior to, or in place of referral. The barrier to the collation and analysis of relevant information often appeared to be a failure to recognize and understand expertise rather than a lack of communication as often postulated in review reports. Skilled use of expertise and consultation in a coordinated manner could result in more rigorous assessments and promote greater professional trust, confidence and challenge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-176
Number of pages17
JournalChild Abuse Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


  • Child deaths
  • Lead professional
  • Safeguarding
  • Service user expertise

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