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Emergency Protection Orders

An Emergency Protection Order is something that Children's Services can request from the Court if they believe that a child is in danger.

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What is an EPO?

An Emergency Protection Order is something that Children's Services can request from the Court if they believe that a child is in immediate danger or at risk of harm. In some situations, the Police or the NSPCC may also apply depending on the circumstances. An EPO will be put in place by the local authority for a short term period if they believe it will safeguard the child. If an EPO is granted by the Court, Children's Services then have some degree of Parental Responsibility for the child, such as:

  • The right to remove the child from the parent(s) and take the child into their care
  • The right to prevent the child from returning to the care of the parent(s)
  • The right to see the child, even if the parent(s) refuses to cooperate
  • The right to make an Exclusion Requirement - i.e. preventing the person whom they believe to be a significant risk to the child from living in the same household or seeing them

When can an EPO be made?

An Emergency Protection Order can be applied for by anyone, however the majority of applications come from either the local authority, the Police or the NSPCC. In order for the EPO to be justified, the Court needs to be satisfied that there is reasonable cause to believe the child is at risk of immediate harm. As a result, the child will either be placed into accommodation provided by Children's Services, or will remain where he/she currently is, if it is understood to be safe (i.e. hospital).

Who can remove my child from my care?

If an Emergency Protection Order is granted by the Court, they may give the local authority permission to enter a residence to search for the child. 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. Although this may seem severe and can be traumatic for the family, an EPO is only granted with the child's best interests at heart. If a child is thought to be at risk, in imminent danger or their life is under threat, they will be removed from the parent(s).

It is a criminal offence to prevent someone from removing a child if an EPO has been granted. Furthermore, Children's Services are able to ask the Court for an Order allowing them to search the location for an additional child (or children) if they believe there is more than one child there. If the additional child (or children) is found in the same location, Children's Services have the right to remove them immediately if the conditions for making an EPO are accurate.

How long does an EPO last?

An Emergency Protection Order lasts for eight days, however it can be extended in some circumstances in order to maintain the child's safety.

Can I contact my child if an EPO is made?

This is dependent upon the circumstances, however the Court has a responsibility to allow reasonable contact with the parent. On some occasions, contact will be supervised by the child's Social Worker.

Can I appeal against an EPO?

You have the 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 you were not present at the hearing, or if you were not given notice of the hearing. Prior to the hearing, if it was believed by Children's Services that the child was at risk or in immediate danger, they have the right to apply for an EPO without giving notice to the parent(s).

If Children's Services has become involved with your family, you can speak in confidence to our team of understanding and compassionate solicitors who will be able to offer legal advice or even represent you in Court.

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