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Notifiable Incidents Involving Children

Definitions of Notifiable Incidents and Seriously Harmed

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

“Seriously harmed” in the context of the above includes, but is not limited to, cases where the child has sustained, as a result of abuse or neglect, any or all of the following:

  • A potentially life-threatening injury;
  • Serious and/or likely long-term impairment of physical or mental health or physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development.

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

Responsibilities of an organisation where a notifiable incident occurs

Where a serious childcare incident occurs which meets the definition of a ‘notifiable incident’ as outlined above the first step for any organisation is to ensure it takes appropriate action to ensure the immediate safety of the child or minimise the impact of any serious harm.

  • In all circumstances staff should consult with their Safeguarding Lead. The organisation should have its own internal processes to ensure that:
  • Where a child has suffered serious harm, the organisation will make a referral into the MASH through CADT
  • The organisation’s Safeguarding Lead is informed of the incidents and agrees with a Senior Manager within the organisation that the criteria has been met.

Where the child has died, the organisation notifies the Child Death Overview Panel of the death using the agreed procedure, and where the child has died unexpectedly, the organisation follows the SUDIC procedures. Procedures are available here:

Responsibilities of the Local Authority

In accordance with Working Together (2015), Wirral Council is required to report any incident that meets the criteria of a ‘notifiable incident’ to Ofsted and the WSCB promptly, and within five working days of becoming aware that the incident has occurred.

The Head of Service for Children’s Social Care has lead responsibility for notifying Ofsted within the five day timescale. The notification will be made using the  Ofsted “Notification of Serious Childcare Incident” online form. This form is available from the link below:

Responsibility of the WSCB

In accordance with the WSCB Learning and Improvement Framework the Case Review Sub-committee will identify whether the case meets the threshold for a Serious Case Review or whether another form of learning review would be useful. This decision must be ratified with by the Chair of the WSCB and the WSCB Business Manager will consult with the National Panel of Independent Experts.  Further information can be obtained from the links below:

For the avoidance of doubt, if an incident meets the criteria for a Serious Case Review (see below) then it will also meet the criteria for a notifiable incident. There will, however, be notifiable incidents that do not proceed through to Serious Case Review.  If a decision is made to conduct a serious case review the WSCB Manager will inform Ofsted that a review will take place.

Criteria for a Serious Case Review

A Serious Case is one where:

(a) abuse or neglect of a child is known or suspected; and

(b) either – (I) the child has died; or (ii) the child has been seriously harmed and there is cause for concern as to the way in which the authority, their Board partners or other relevant persons have worked together to safeguard the child.

Whether to undertake a serious case, or other review is agreed or not the WSCB Manager will inform the referrer and the Case Review Committee of the outcome.