News from our partners: Archie Spriggs Serious Case Review report published
News from Shropshire Safeguarding Children’s Board
The report of a Serious Case Review carried out following the death of seven-year-old Archie Spriggs has been published today (Wednesday 12 December 2018).
Archie, from Wall under Heywood, near Church Stretton, died in September 2017. In March 2018 his mother was found guilty of his murder following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
Following Archie’s death the Shropshire Safeguarding Children’s Board (SSCB) commissioned a Serious Case Review (SCR) to consider the way in which agencies worked both individually and together in this case, and to explore whether there is a need to improve the way they work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in Shropshire.
The family were given the opportunity to contribute to the review process.
The report – which has been published on the SSCB website – was written by independent safeguarding consultant Liz Murphy, a qualified social worker.
In the report she makes it clear that:
“It is important to stress that the system challenges identified in this or any SCR, can have no responsibility for the perpetrator’s motivation or their actions. Responsibility for the death of any individual rests firmly with the perpetrator.”
The report makes a series of recommendations for the lead agencies, and these have already been addressed, or are currently being addressed, as summarised below.
Shropshire Council’s children’s social care team is currently reviewing the referral pathways and the consistent use of the multi-agency written referral forms where there are concerns about a child, in order to provide clarity and effective application of the referral pathway. The new arrangements are under consultation with partners and will be implemented from January 2019.
Training and learning opportunities for the multi-agency workforce are currently being considered to include factors highlighted in the report such as: the impact of protracted private law proceedings on children’s emotional wellbeing; factors to be considered and assessed in circumstances whereby separated parents make allegations about the welfare of their children; experiences and barriers to working with fathers; and enabling professionals to reflect on the approach to providing a whole family focus.
Shropshire Safeguarding Children’s Board has also started to work with the Local Family Justice Board and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) to ensure timely and consistent arrangements are in place where there are safeguarding concerns for children who are going through the family court process.
And SSCB will continue to seek regular assurance from partner agencies in Shropshire that the impact of the learning from this case has improved the safeguarding response to children of separated parents where contact and residency are decided by the Court.
Ivan Powell, independent chair of the Shropshire Safeguarding Children’s Board, said:
“This is a tragic and terrible case and it is absolutely right that we have conducted this review to better understand the way that the partner agencies worked together and individually, and to determine what lessons can be learned. The SSCB has already taken steps to ensure that all of the recommendations are pursued robustly to change and improve the future experience for Shropshire’s children and their families.
‘’I wish to acknowledge the strength of Archie’s family who fully contributed to the review at a time of such a terrible loss for them.”
Note to editors
1. Archie’s family have asked not to be approached by the media at what is a difficult time for the family. We’re sure that you will all appreciate their position and ask that you respect their wishes.
2. In the report, Archie is referred to as ‘Child E’
3. About the review:
a. The review focuses on the period from January 2014 to September 2017. This period was selected following a SCR Panel meeting and is of a sufficient range to include the relevant engagement that Archie had with agencies in Shropshire. Whilst this period was the basis for the review, contextual and relevant information falling outside of this period was also included.
b. The review was conducted in a way which:
- recognised the complex circumstances in which professionals work together to safeguard children;
- sought to understand precisely who did what, and the underlying reasons that led individuals and organisations to act as they did;
- sought to understand practice from the viewpoint of the individuals and organisations involved at the time, rather than using hindsight;
- was transparent in the way data is collected and analysed;
- made use of relevant research and case evidence to inform the findings.
c. The key agencies involved in the serious case review were: West Mercia Police; the GP; Shropshire Council’s children’s social care service; the NSPCC; the CCG; Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS).