A Solicitor’s Guide to Police Powers of Protection
What are Police Powers of Protection?
The Police can exercise their powers of protection when a Police Constable (PC) has reasonable cause to believe that a child(ren) would otherwise be likely to suffer significant harm.
It is important to note that the Police does not need to make any formal application to court to exercise their powers of protection, however, they should only exercise their powers of protection when it is not practicable for the Local Authority to make an application to Court for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) or an Interim Care Order (ICO). This is to avoid any unnecessary harm befalling the child(ren). Please see separate articles for discussion surrounding those orders.
If the Police exercise their Powers of Protection, what are the consequences?
If the Police have exercised their powers of protection, they may do one of two things;
- remove the child(ren) to suitable accommodation and keep them there; or
- take such steps as are reasonable to ensure that the child(ren)’s removal from any hospital, or other place, in which they are then being accommodated is prevented
An example would include, the Police exercising their powers of protection to remove a child(ren) from the care of their parents and to place them in suitable accommodation if the child(ren) has made allegations of serious physical harm.
Another example would include the Police exercising their powers of protection to keep a child(ren) in hospital if the parents of that child(ren) wish to remove the child(ren) unreasonably from hospital.
If the Police have exercised their powers of protection, the Police shall, as soon as is reasonably practicable after taking a child(ren) into police protection, undertake the following;
- Inform the local authority within whose area the child(ren) was found of the steps that have been, and are proposed to be, taken with respect to the child(ren) under this section and the reasons for taking them; and
- As soon as is reasonably practicable after taking a child(ren) into police protection, the constable concerned shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to inform;
- the child(ren) parents;
- every person who is not a parent of the child(ren) but who has parental responsibility for the child(ren); and
- any other person with whom the child(ren) was living immediately before being taken into police protection.
How long will the child(ren) be in protection?
No child(ren) may be kept in police protection for more than 72 hours. It is not possible to extend this period and if further protection is necessary an EPO must be applied for within that 72-hour window. Where an EPO is made following the exercise of police powers, the eight-day period of its duration will begin with the first day on which the child was taken into police protection.
It is very important to remember that while a child(ren) is being kept in police protection that;
- neither the police constable concerned nor the designated officer shall have parental responsibility for the child(ren); but
- the designated officer shall do what is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child(ren)’s welfare.
Seeking Legal Advice
Police powers of protection cannot be legally challenged, but it is possible to challenge the care proceedings that comes after. Therefore, if your child is has been removed by the police, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Please call us on 03458 941 622 to speak with one of our legal advisors.
All advice is correct at time of publication.