A local authority will often apply to the court for an Emergency Protection Order if an immediate need arises to remove or protect a child. EPO’s are therefore only used in genuine emergencies where the local authority does not have time to obtain an Interim Care Order over the child and where the police can no longer exercise their own powers of protection.
An EPO will allow a local authority to temporarily share parental responsibility and therefore take decisions to protect the child from this immediate risk of harm.
How Long Does an EPO Last?
An EPO can only be initially made for 8 days. However, a local authority can apply to the court to have this extended for a further 7 days. A court will agree to the extension of an EPO only if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child will suffer significant harm if the extension is not made.
If it becomes apparent that it is safe for the child to return to where he/she was residing before, this should happen even if the EPO is still in place.
What Are Police Powers of Protection?
The police have the power to remove a child immediately from the care of his or her parents without the matter first going to court. This is a very extreme measure but can be used if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a child would be likely to suffer significant harm if he or she is not removed.
The police should only exercise their powers of protection if it is not practicable for the local authority to obtain an EPO in time to protect the child.
This power only lasts for 72 hours. After this time, the police cannot continue to keep a child in their protection. If an EPO has not been granted by the court at this time, the child must be returned.
What Should You Do if the Local Authority Are Seeking an EPO?
An EPO is a very serious order. It is therefore critical that you obtain proper legal advice if you are faced with an application to the court for an EPO. We regularly deal with parents whose children are made subject to an application for an EPO. We will ensure that proper procedure is followed and that the harm and disruption to the child is kept to an absolute minimum.