Information

Police powers of protection & Emergency protection orders

This information page will set out the law surrounding Police protection and Emergency Protection Orders which are options available to use in an emergency when a child is at risk of imminent harm. Please see the table below to find out further information. 

Police protection powers/Emergency protection orders 

The table below is divided into two columns – Police protection powers and Emergency protection orders.

The table includes the following information:

  • Definition
  • Legislative context
  • Timescales
  • Who is able to apply?
  • What are the effects of such powers/orders?
  • What are the duties on the responsible authority? 
Police protection powers Emergency protection orders

Definition

  • A Police Constable has the legal right to remove a child from accommodation or prevent removal, where they have reasonable cause to believe the child would otherwise be likely to suffer significant harm. 
  • The Local Authority has the legal right to remove a child from accommodation or prevent removal, where they have reasonable cause to believe the child would otherwise be likely to suffer significant harm. 

Where can this be found in legislation?

Timescales

  • The child may be kept at the Police Station or removed to a suitable accommodation (e.g. relative’s home, Foster Care via Children’s Services) for up to 72 hours.
  • An EPO can be made for a maximum period of 8 days, with a possible extension of up to a further seven days, to a maximum of 15 days

Who can apply?

  • There is not necessarily an application as such because there is no court order required in order to for the Police to exercise their powers under Section 46. Their powers are enforced where a constable has reasonable cause to believe that a child would otherwise be likely to suffer significant harm. 
  • Any person
  • The local authority
  • An authorised person, for example, the NSPCC. 

An application would be made on a C110a form. 

What are the effects of such powers/orders?

  • Does not confer Parental Responsibility. However, the designated officer shall do what is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare (having regard in particular to the length of the period during which the child will be so protected).
  • Provides for the removal of the child to accommodation provided by the applicant, or alternatively it governs the prevention of the child’s removal from a hospital or other place in which they were accommodated immediately prior to the Police exercising their powers. 

 

  • Provides for the removal of the child to accommodation provided by the applicant, or alternatively it governs the prevention of the child’s removal from a hospital or other place in which they were accommodated immediately prior to the order. The Court is also able to issue a Police warrant to enable them to support Children’s Services if the parent(s) refuses entry or access to the child.
  • Confers limited Parental Responsibility  for the child to whoever applied for the order. This parental responsibility is limited to whatever is required in order to safeguard the child. 

What are the duties on the Police/Children’s Services?

 The Police constable must:

  • inform the relevant Local Authority where the child resides; (The local authority children’s services department  should undertake enquiries under Section 47 of the Children Act to determine whether an application for an emergency protection order should be made).
  • inform the child’s parents, any persons with Parental Responsibility or the child’s carer of the steps which have been taken and the steps which they intend to take;
  • inform the child of the steps being taken and where practicable find out the child’s wishes and feelings; and
  • allow the parent, any persons with Parental Responsibility or the child’s carer to have a reasonable amount of contact.

Children’s services must:

  • consult with the parents or those with Parental Responsibility as to their plans for the child;
  • draw up a written care plan;
  • provide a reasonable amount of contact to parents and to any person with whom the child was living with immediately before the order was made;
  • keep the case under review day by day so as to ensure that parent and child are separated for no longer than it is necessary to secure the child’s safety.
  • Inform the relevant parties of their right to apply to discharge the Emergency Protection Order within 72 hours of it being granted by the Court. However, this will only be valid if the relevant parties were not present at the hearing, or if they were not given notice of the hearing.