Aims To review the on-line reporting by local and national newspapers and local news websites of SCRs to establish the frequency of reporting in relation to SCR publication as well as coroners inquests, hearings, trials and sentencing where relevant.
Methods This was a review of all SCRs undertaken by a regional safeguarding board from 2006 to September 2016.
The NSPCC repository of SCRs was used to locate reports of all 6 SCRs published. The identity of the child from each SCR was then used in search engines for 2 local newspapers, 2 local news websites, 4 national broadsheets and 4 national tabloids. The number of news articles on each site and the timing in relation to the SCR publication and other key events were then collated.
Results All 6 SCRs involved fatalities. 5 resulted in a committal for sentence.
The names of the children when not published were identifiable using simple search terms.
All children were reported on in the local and national press. The reports were most often in the local newspapers (55 articles) followed by the national tabloids (21 articles). They were least often reported on in the national broadsheets (5 articles).
The largest number of articles occurred in relation to court activity (71 articles), most often trial and sentencing (45 articles). The publication of the SCR was reported on in 5 cases (15 articles).
The time interval between death and SCR publication ranged from 13 to 30 months.
The time interval between sentencing or coroner’s inquest and SCR publication ranged from 2 to 22 months.
Conclusions 60% of adults use the internet to read online news or newspapers. The deaths of children in whom SCRs are undertaken are well reported on in these forums. The majority of articles are in relation to court activity rather than SCR publication. The time lag after death and media interest peak to SCR publication is considerable.
The existing SCR process is set for change (Wood 2016) and consideration should be given to better utilising local and national media to signpost to or disseminate lessons to frontline staff and society on time frames which mirror public interest and news reporting.
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