Publication - Advice and guidance

National Guidance for Child Protection Committees for Conducting a Significant Case Review

Published: 31 Mar 2015
Children and Families Directorate
Part of:
Communities and third sector

This guidance has been superseded by the 2021 Learning Review guidance, available at

National Guidance for Child Protection Committees for Conducting a Significant Case Review
Significant case review and the wider context

Significant case review and the wider context

There are a number of other processes, including SCRs under multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) and adult support and protection, that could be running in parallel with an SCR. This raises a number of issues, including:

  • The relationship of the SCR with other processes, such as criminal proceedings or SCRA proceedings;
  • Securing co-operation from all agencies, including relevant voluntary sector interests in relation to the release and sharing of information;
  • Minimising duplication; and
  • Ensuring a sufficient degree of rigour, transparency and objectivity.

Depending on the case, a number of processes could be driven by considerations wider than service failure or learning lessons across agencies. These can include a criminal investigation, report of death to PF, an FAI, and a review into the death of a looked after child. Further details of these processes are at Annex 8. These processes may impact on whether a review can be easily progressed or concluded - criminal investigations always have primacy. To help establish what status an SCR (including the ICR) should have relative to other formal investigations there should be ongoing dialogue with Police Scotland, COPFS, SCRA or others to determine how far and fast the SCR process can proceed in certain cases. Good local liaison arrangements are important. Issues to be considered include how to:

  • Link processes;
  • Avoid witness contamination;
  • Avoid duplicate information being collected; and
  • Decide whether to postpone an SCR if a parallel process is running, and wait for the determination of the parallel proceedings. Annex 9 contains the national protocol for the Police Service of Scotland, COPFS, and CPCs to help with liaison and the exchange of information when there are simultaneous SCRs and criminal proceedings, an FAI or investigations that may result in further proceedings

Regardless of whether, or when, an SCR takes place, it is important that any obvious areas for improvement of practice are addressed as soon as possible. Following the death of a child or the identification of serious concerns about to a child, agencies should assess the circumstances of the case to identify if any immediate actions need to be taken. If action is required, it should be proportionate and taken at local level as far as possible.

Sometimes, if there are complex, interconnected events, a joined up SCR should be considered. For example, in the case of 16/17 year olds who are being considered under adult support and protection, CPCs will want to liaise closely with Adult Protection Committees (APCs) to determine if the criteria for an SCR have been met under this guidance, and whether a joint SCR is required.