What is a case review?
Case reviews will typically look at single cases or collections of cases that have an agreed theme or commonality (e.g. cases involving a particular type of offence/allegation or cases within a set timeframe).
These pieces of work will take a rigorous approach to identifying lessons from the management of past cases that have been dealt with by a church or organisation. This is not to find ways of apportioning any blame or previously unidentified responsibility, but to gain clear lessons from the manner in which matters were previously dealt with to inform improvements in current and future practice.
When would you consider undertaking a case review?
There are many different situations which may lead to an organisation to decide that they need an Independent Review of their safeguarding arrangements. This decision is usually taken at a senior level within the organisation, at board level (directors or trustees), and often in response to external factors. One of the key responsibilities held by an organisation’s board concerns managing risk, including reputational risk, and safeguarding is one area where the risks, including the risk of litigation, are most stark.
An Independent Review may be of one particular case, a number of past cases (usually relating to individuals employed by the organisation), or a more general survey of the documentation available that falls within the responsibility of the organisation’s safeguarding lead. It is important, in the initial stage, to negotiate a clear remit for the review so that the Commissioning Organisation, as well as the Reviewer/Review Team, understands the parameters around the scope of the review and the corresponding limits of its recommendations.
How is it undertaken?
The original request for an independent review may arise out of an ongoing relationship with a partner organisation and, in that case, the relevant Relationship Manager is likely to be the first person to be involved. Alternatively, a request may be made via the Helpline, through another piece of work with the organisation such as training or policy reviews, through a network meeting or in many other ways. Whoever receives the request, and whatever the route, the request should be forwarded to the Head of Consultancy for consideration and discussion within the Divisional Management Team.
- Scoping The initial request will be forwarded to the Head of Consultancy, Safeguarding Services, who will negotiate the terms of reference for the review with the Commissioning Organisation.
- Estimating The Head of Consultancy will then calculate the time required (in days/half days of consultancy time) together with the proposed costs and complete a Schedule of Services. In discussion with colleagues, the work will then be allocated to a named Reviewer/Review Team.
- Research and reading papers. Once the work has been allocated, the Reviewer will make contact with the Commissioning Organisation and agree a secure transfer of all the relevant background papers that can be read prior to the fieldwork beginning. The documentation required will vary according to the terms of reference of the review but, as a minimum, the organisation’s safeguarding policy and practice guidance, together with any other general background information (such as relevant internal discussions within the organisation about the circumstances that have led to the decision to commission this work) that the Commissioning Organisation feel is necessary for the Reviewer/s to understand the context of the Review.
- Planning. This will involve liaison with the key person nominated by the Commissioning Agency, agreeing timescales and forming an initial view as to what confidential records will be made available, where the Reviewer/s will do their work (preferably a separate room with some privacy) and who may need to be interviewed. Essential confidential records to be surveyed are likely to include personnel files and safeguarding records such as Incident/Concern forms, Accident books, Log Books etc.
- Fieldwork. It will usually be more effective and economical for the reviewer/s to allocate a block of time in which the reading of confidential records and interviewing of key staff can be done. This cuts down travel time but, more importantly, enables the Reviewer/s to concentrate on the task in hand without distractions or the intrusion of other tasks.
- Writing the report. The Reviewer/s will write up their findings in a report for the Commissioning Organisation. This report will follow our Framework for Independent Case Reviews and the first draft will be forwarded to the Head of Consultancy for editing and amending.
- Quality Assurance. Once the Head of Consultancy has reviewed it, a final draft is signed off for approval by our Chief Executive Officer (Safeguarding). The Head of Consultancy will make arrangements to send an evaluation form to the commissioning Organisation and seek other feedback as appropriate.
- Review, feedback and learning. Any feedback received from the commissioning organisation via the online evaluation or any other sources will inform learning for future pieces of work.