When a child up to the age of 18 dies, there are certain processes that have to be followed to help us understand the reasons for the child's death, and enable us to address the possible needs of other children and family members in the household. Developing a better understanding of child deaths, and considering lessons we can learn from each case, helps us develop more effective prevention strategies for safeguarding children's welfare in the future.

Since 1 April 2008 all Local Safeguarding Children Boards in England and Wales have established a Child Death Overview Panel and associated Rapid Response Process to meet the requirements of Chapter 5 of the government's statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018.

Rapid response involves a group of key professionals coming together to undertake an enquiry and evaluation of every unexpected death of a child, and subsequently to provide support or ensure that the family are already being supported in their loss. 

Child Death Overview Panel

The Child Death Overview Panel collects and analyses information about each death to identify:

  • cases that may require a serious case review
  • matters of concern affecting the safety and welfare of other children
  • any wider public health or safety concerns arising from a particular death, or a pattern of deaths.

The Panel, which revised its Terms of Reference in January 2015, does not take over from the work of the coroner, local safeguarding children partnership, police, health, social care or any other agency undertaking investigation of serious untoward incidents.

The government has published data on completed Child Death Reviews.