Supervision orders

This page provides information on the powers of the local authority to take action to protect a child under a Supervision Order.

What is a Supervision Order?

A Supervision Order imposes a duty on the local authority to ‘advise, assist and befriend’ the child. It may require a child to live in a specified place, do certain activities and report to a particular place at a set time. A supervision order can last for one year, and may be extended yearly to a total of three years. It will last until the child reaches the age of 18, unless discharged at an earlier date. 

An important distinction between a Supervision Order and a Care Order is that a Supervision Order does not confer Parental Responsibility to the Local Authority

Within the Supervision Order there is the opportunity to impose obligations on a responsible person. Therefore, requirements will be placed on the parent/carer as well as the child. However, this does require the consent of the responsible person before it can be included in the Supervision Order. The responsible person is required to give details of the child’s address and allow the supervisor reasonable contact with the child. (Schedule 3, Children Act 1989)

The responsible person, in relation to a supervised child means:

  • Any person who has parental responsibility for the child; and
  • Any other person with whom the child is living.

Unlike a Care Order, a supervision order does not require a care plan for its implementation. However, the Local Authority will ordinarily agree some form of supervision ”contract” with the child’s parents /carers.

What is an Interim Supervision Order?

The court can consider whether to make an Interim Supervision Order which places the child temporarily under the supervision of the local authority until the court can make a final decision about what is best for the child. An Interim Supervision Order will be made where the court has reasonable grounds for believing the threshold criteria of harm has been met.

A supervision order may require the supervised child to comply with directions given by the supervisor to do things such as:

  • To live at a place or places specified in the directions for a period or periods so specified;
  • To present himself to a person or persons specified in the directions at a place or places and on a  day or days so specified;
  • To participate in activities specified in the directions on a day or days so specified.

Who can apply for a Supervision Order?

Only a local authority or ‘authorised person’ can apply for a Supervision Order. At present, the only authorised person is the NSPCC.

When will a Supervision Order be made?

For a Supervision Order to be made, the court must be satisfied that the child concerned is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm; and that the harm, or likelihood of harm, is attributable to:

  • the care given to the child, or likely to be given to him, if the order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give to him/her; or
  • the child being beyond parental control.

These are known as the ‘threshold criteria’. The duty is on the local authority to show that the ‘threshold criteria’ has been met. (Section 31 Children Act)

Can I discharge a Supervision Order?

There are regular meetings held 8 -12 weeks before the Supervision Order expires and consideration should be given as to whether the Supervision Order needs to be extended. If it is determined that the Supervision Order is no longer required, the Supervision Order will effectively be discharged once the duration of the order has lapsed. 

An application to discharge a Supervision Order can be made by the child, the parent, the local authority or any person with Parental Responsibility. The applicant must demonstrate that there is a significant change in circumstances since the Supervision Order was granted. If you are considering applying to discharge an order, we strongly advise that you seek independent legal advice.