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Universal learning: findings from an analysis of serious case review executive summaries

Jay Aylett (Adult Matters Ltd, Kent, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 8 February 2016




The purpose of this paper is to report and discuss the findings of a thematic analysis from a survey of 114 serious case review (SCR) executive summaries in adult safeguarding. The Care Act 2014 (Section 44) makes the establishment of Safeguarding Adults Boards a statutory requirement. One of their responsibilities/functions is to undertake Safeguarding Adults Reviews (SAR-previously known as SCRs). They must also publish an annual report which includes the recommendations and actions from these SAR’s. This paper draws attention to the potential of SCR as national learning materials, and offers recommendations for strengthening the scope for interpretation in practice.


This paper maps the findings and recommendations from 114 SCRs undertaken in England and Wales between 2000 and 2012. It then identifies the dominant themes and universal lessons to emerge, and makes suggestions for the improvement of learning.


The demographic profile of SCRs bore some correlation to UK prevalence reports on perpetrator characteristics, but there was variance in relation to victim characteristics, where people with mental illness were the subject of SCRs with a level of frequency that does not mirror the prevalence of mental illness in reported abuse in the UK. The thematic analysis of conclusions and recommendations identified that these could be categorised as either idiosyncratic or bureaucratic.

Research limitations/implications

The quality and quantity of information contained within the various SCR executive summary reports collated evidenced the lack of consistency/standardisation. Consequently, the analysis of demographic characteristics from these reports was compromised by incomplete data. In order to strengthen the scope of interpretation and understanding from future SARs to inform wider learning within the safeguarding community some national collation and standardisation is necessary.


This paper offers an analysis of the demographic profile and common themes emerging from an examination of the largest survey of SCR executive summaries reported on in the UK so far.



Aylett, J. (2016), "Universal learning: findings from an analysis of serious case review executive summaries", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 28-39.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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