Emergency Protection Order

The local authority has a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in their area. If a child is thought to be at risk of significant harm the local authority (usually the social services and the police) will investigate to see if a child needs protection. In every case the authority will try to work to resolve any problems and keep the child with his or her family but in some extreme cases, where the child is at immediate risk of harm they may need to consider applying for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) to remove the child from home.

An EPO can only be applied for if the authority has "reasonable cause to believe the child is likely to suffer significant harm and that he/she will be in danger unless he/she is removed to a place of safety". In some cases if the authority’s enquiries have been frustrated and access to the child has been unreasonably denied an EPO will be requested so that a full assessment of the child’s needs can be made.

An EPO gives the local authority parental responsibility, in addition to the parents or whoever had it before. An application for an emergency order can only be made through the Courts. It only lasts eight days although the court can extend it for a further period not exceeding seven days.

Parents of the child subject to an EPO are usually allowed to see their son or daughter during this time although this meeting may have to be supervised. In all cases the local authority will try to work in partnership with the parents or carers for the child and they will seek to resolve the situation to ensure the child remains safe.

If you are worried about a child's safety or welfare contact our Advice, Contact and Assessment Centre.