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Following the publication of the Green Paper, Every Child Matters [1] and the Children Act 2004 [2], Local Safeguarding Children Boards are responsible for two functions in relation to the deaths of any children normally resident in their area:

  1. collecting and analysing information about each death;
  2. putting in place procedures for ensuring that there is a co-ordinated response to an unexpected death.

A feasibility study carried out in 2006 [3] identified a need for training in this area, with many professionals feeling ill-equipped and unprepared for taking on these new procedures. Experience in running a 3 day advanced course for senior professionals has confirmed the need for such training and identified further needs for materials to be available to Local Safeguarding Boards to run local training programmes. In response to this need, a multi-agency team led by the University of Warwick was commissioned by DCSF (formerly DfES) to prepare national training materials on responding to childhood death.

Aims and Objectives

The overall aim of the training resources is to enable key professionals and, where appropriate, their managers to understand and implement the new child death review processes, including requirements to review all child deaths in their local authority area and to have in place processes to respond to, enquire into and evaluate each unexpected death.

Specific objectives were set including:

  1. To inform key professionals of the background to and functions of the child death review processes set out in Chapter 7;
  2. To enable relevant professionals to understand and know how to follow processes for responding to individual unexpected deaths and for reviewing all child deaths;
  3. To familiarise relevant professionals with the process of the rapid response to an unexpected death, including immediate responses by emergency providers, inter-agency liaison, joint home visits, and final case reviews;
  4. To familiarise professionals with the roles and responsibilities of each professional group, including the roles of the Coroner and coroner's officers, the police, health, and children's social care;
  5. To clarify for professionals the relationship between the rapid response to unexpected child deaths, overall child death review processes, death registration, Coroner’s procedures, serious case reviews and other procedures in response to a child death;
  6. To enable LSCBs to establish and run effective child death overview panels, to interpret and make best use of data about children’s deaths in order to safeguard children and prevent future childhood deaths

Developing the programmes

The multi-agency team developing these materials included representatives from the police, paediatrics, children's nursing and social care. An initial series of meetings of the team established the key aims and learning objectives, the target audience, and basic content of the programme. Recognising the varied background and experience of those needing training, the three core programmes were developed. For each of these training programmes, the target audience, aims and learning objectives, teaching methods, resources and a draft programme were prepared. The team then developed each programme in detail, preparing powerpoint presentations, case studies, group work and background reading, drawing on experience from the Warwick Advanced Course and other training that the team members had done. The materials were produced in a standardised format along with facilitators’ notes. As these materials were developed they were sent to members of the steering group and other professionals known to the team for peer review and comment. Draft training materials were piloted by various LSCBs across England. The final training materials were amended in the light of comments received from the steering group and peer review as well as feedback from the pilot study.


[1] HM Government. Every Child Matters. The Stationery Office 2003.
[2] HM Government. Children Act 2004. The Stationery Office 2004.
[3] Garstang J, Sidebotham P. Interagency training: establishing a course in the management of unexpected childhood death. Child Abuse Review. 2008;Published online Mar 4 2008.