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8.1 Child Deaths – Introduction

Each death of a child is a tragedy for the family and subsequent enquiries/investigations should keep an appropriate balance between forensic and medical requirements and the family's need for support. Families should be treated with sensitivity, discretion and respect and professionals should approach their enquiries with an open mind. A minority of unexpected deaths are the consequence of abuse or neglect, or are found to have abuse or neglect as an associated factor. In all cases enquiries should seek to understand the reasons for the child's death, address the possible needs of other children in the household, the needs of all family members and also consider any lessons to be learnt about how best to safeguard and promote children's welfare in the future.

Regulation 6 of the Local Safeguarding Children Board Regulations 2006 places a statutory duty on LSCBs in relation to the deaths of any children normally resident in their area and guidance is provided in Chapter 5 of Working Together to Safeguard Children. This function became a statutory requirement from 1st April 2008. Child Death Overview Panels (CDOPs) have responsibility for reviewing all child deaths in their area on behalf of their respective LSCBs.