Daniel Pelka serious case review

Today the Serious Case Review for Daniel Pelka was released and, as expected, all the questions were directed towards who is to blame for this and whom among the professionals fell down in their duty to protect this boy. I have no problem with responsibility being placed squarely where it belongs and also have no problem with disciplining people if their work is not up to standard.

There should be, however, just a few things that we bear in mind on this case, firstly it was the parent who killed this little boy with a savage blow to his head and the enquiry concluded that he would not have otherwise died – even though his care was appalling. Lessons to be learned include (and I emphasis the words again!) communication between agencies was really bad, twenty seven visits by police, mainly to do with domestic violence, medics heavily involved from the school nurse to the paediatrician, the school where teachers on six occasions raised concerns that were not acted on and social services who convened meetings but did not pursue concerns.

All of this was wrong in retrospect. However, given there are 30,000 plus children identified at risk every day in the United Kingdom, a tragedy like this will occur from time to time and social worker especially need more support in recruitment, in case loads and in training – there’s just no way around this. No case ever failed because there was too much communication, the British Association of Social Workers survey recently showed that only a small percentage of social workers got to read serious case reviews – most likely due to little time, ironic as that is a good way to learn lessons.

We all hope there will never be another Daniel Pelka case, but there will be. All that we can hope is that there are longer and longer gaps in time before the next one due to better vigilance and training. Please remember that it’s not just the professionals responsibility, but the whole community’s responsibility, including the extended families to alert people if a child is being hurt. Always put the child first, it might ruin an adult relationship, but saving a child’s life is worth it.

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