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Safeguarding Reviews and Domestic Homicide Reviews

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What is a Safeguarding Review?

Safeguarding Reviews refer to Child Practice Reviews (also known as Child Safeguarding Reviews) and Adult Practice Reviews (also known as Adult Safeguarding Reviews).  A review is required where a significant incident of abuse or neglect is known or suspected.

The overall purpose of the review system is to promote a positive culture of multi-agency adult protection learning and reviewing in local areas, for which [Regional Partnership] Boards and partner agencies hold responsibility. To achieve this, it sets in place a foundation for learning together by professionals from different agencies and, in those circumstances where more formal review is required when there are serious incidents resulting from abuse or neglect.” Welsh Government

A multi-agency review is required where a child or adult has died, sustained potentially life threatening injury, or sustained serious and permanent impairment of health or development. There are two forms for each, concise and extended. The outputs are expected to generate new learning which can support continuous improvement in inter-agency safeguarding practice. An action plan must be developed and actioned based on recommendations from the learning in the reviews. If they were a child, then the type of child protection review – concise or extended – will be dependent on whether they were on the child protection register or a looked after child (including if either of these in the last 6 months if the child has turned 18). If an adult, then it will depend on if actions to protect were undertaken prior to the event. 

Child Practice Reviews and Adult Practice Reviews are not inquiries into how a person died or who is to blame. Those are matters covered by Coroners and Criminal Courts (see Homicide).

What is a Domestic Homicide Review?

A Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) is “a multi-agency review of the circumstances in which the death of a person aged 16 or over has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by a person to whom they were related or with whom they were, or have been in an intimate personal relationship, or a member of the same household as themselves”. (UK Government)

See Domestic Abuse for a full definition. An intimate personal relationship includes relationships between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

The purpose of a DHR is to:

  • establish what lessons are to be learned, regarding the way in which local professionals and organisations work individually and together, to safeguard victims.
  • identify clearly what those lessons are through recommendations, within and between agencies, how and within what timescales to be delivered, and the anticipated changes.
  • apply these lessons to services, including updating policies and procedures if appropriate.
  • prevent future domestic homicides and improve services for all victims and their families through improved internal and external partnership working. 
  • contribute to a better understanding of domestic violence and abuse.
  • highlight good practice.

Domestic Homicide Reviews are not inquiries into how a person died or who is to blame. Those are matters covered by Coroners and Criminal Courts. All DHRs must be submitted to the Home Office for quality assurance (see Homicide).

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill may result in changes following a required review into domestic homicide (clause 24).

Single Unified Safeguarding Reviews (SUSR)

The Welsh Government are looking to bring Child Protection Reviews, Adult Protection Reviews and Domestic Homicide Reviews all under the Single Unified Safeguarding Reviews. They will be joined by the Mental Health Homicide Reviews, the Offensive Weapons Homicide Reviews (due to be trialled in 2022) and any other reviews that may be introduced through legislation by the Welsh Government and UK Government.

The Programme is already in progress with a central repository for the secure and safe storage and analysis being created by Cardiff University under the direction of the Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioners Office. New guidance to deliver reviews under a single system whilst delivering against devolved and non-devolved legislation is being prepared. A new SUSR Coordination Hub will provide secretariat, hold a list of approved chairs, and liaise with regional partnership boards on progress against recommendations and actions. There will also be the opportunity to identify themes and develop and deliver appropriate training and learning to improve the short term and long term outcomes as a result of the reviews.

This section will be updated as the Programme develops further.

Safeguarding Reviews

DHRs

  • Domestic Violence, Crimes and Victims Act 2004 established a statutory basis for DHRs which was implemented with due guidance in 2011 and reviewed in 2016. It states “of the circumstances in which the death of a person aged 16 or over has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by:
    • a person to whom he was related or with whom he/she was or had been in an intimate personal relationship, or
    • a member of the same household as themselves, held with a view to identifying the lessons to be learnt from the death.”

Where the definition has been met, which is confirmed by the Community Safety Partnership then a DHR must be undertaken. 

  • Domestic Abuse Act 2021 requires all recommendations from DHRs to be submitted to the Domestic Abuse Commissioner.


Help and Support

For victims, families and concerned people

If you or a family member are subject to a review, then you should be offered advocacy support by the local authority, regional safeguarding board or the Chair of the review. The advocacy is there to support through the process and represent when appropriate. There are specialist advocates for children and dependent on the circumstances of the review being undertaken.