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Emergency Protection Orders

Child Care Proceedings


Emergency Protection Orders (EPO) are obtained from the court if there is an immediate risk of significant harm to a child. It enables the person applying for the order, usually the local authority, to remove a child from the care of his or her parents or keep a child in a safe place for a specified duration. It also confers parental responsibility on the person with the order but only for matters that are deemed necessary to safeguard the child.

An EPO is an extreme measure and is therefore used only in emergencies, for instance, where the child is considered to be in imminent danger. EPOs can last for a maximum of eight days; however, they can be extended for a further seven.

If an EPO has been made in respect of your child, it is in your best interests to acquire professional legal advice at your earliest convenience. At Cartwright King, we take a non-judgemental, professional approach to our client’s cases and acknowledge your right to legal representation. Our acclaimed Child Care solicitors are available to put your mind at ease by supporting you through the legal proceedings and representing you in court if the need arises.

Free Initial Telephone Consultation

Dealing with anything related to court and children is never easy – there’s a lot of stress involved. We understand that you may need support along with legal advice, which is why we offer our help from the very beginning of the process. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us immediately. Your first phone conversation with us will not only allow us to understand your situation better and come up with the best way to proceed, but it will also give you a chance to get a glimpse at how we operate, giving you the chance to decide if we’re the right fit for you.

In case of any questions, get in touch with us either by giving us a call or sending us an email.

How Can We Help You With Emergency Protection Orders?

EPO proceedings can be very intimidating to face, especially if you have no background in law. However, you can always count on our experienced Child Care solicitors to help you get through the legal matters. During our cooperation, you are sure to:

  • receive advice throughout the whole process
  • have your case treated without any judgement and in a sensitive manner
  • be represented by us in court (if the need arises)
  • have us prepare any documentation that might be needed
  • prepare an appeal (if it will be necessary)

Legal Fees

Legal Aid is available in this area which means that you may be eligible for free advice. To discuss your eligibility for Legal Aid, please get in contact with us for free initial advice by calling us or emailing your enquiry.

If you are not eligible for Legal Aid, then we can discuss affordable private paying fee arrangements.

We're here for you.

Frequently asked questions.

Any person that believes that the child is in immediate danger can apply for an EPO – it doesn’t matter if the person is or isn’t related to the child. In most cases, however, the application for the emergency protection order is made by a local authority and sometimes the police or NSPCC.

Yes, in most cases, the local authority (or other applicants of the EPO) has to inform the parents or the person with parental responsibility that an application for an emergency protection order is going to be made.

Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule – mostly when there is a reasonable cause to believe that the caregiver might, e.g. run away with the child. In such a case, a notice is not needed.

If the applicant does not provide notice but still proceeds with making an application for an EPO, they have to either give or send (serve) a copy of the application, as well as the order to the parents within 48 hours.

If the need arises, the court might permit a local authority to enter the premises set out to look for the child. The court also has the power to issue a warrant that authorises a police officer to accompany the social worker if there’s a chance they might be refused entry.

If a social worker believes that another child is at risk in the same premises, they can turn to court to issue them an order allowing them to search for the child. If the child is found, and the conditions in which the child was living, meet the emergency protection order requirements, the search order provides the power to remove the child immediately.

In some cases, when the court issues an emergency protection order, the court may also add some instructions to it. For instance, it can give permission for medical or psychiatric examinations, or it can exclude someone who made the child suffer significant harm from the child’s home (the so-called exclusion requirement).

It depends on the court’s decision. The court will be the one making decisions whether the child should be permitted reasonable contact with:

  • its parents
  • any person that has parental responsibility for the child
  • any person, e.g. family members, it was living with before the emergency protection order was made
  • any person that has a child arrangements order for it.

Once the court decides that it is possible for you to see the child, it will be under the court’s instructions and assisted by the Local Authority. For instance, the local authorities might request the court to make contact between the parent and the child supervised (especially in situations in where one of the parents may have been abusive towards the child).

In the first instance, an emergency protection order is valid for eight days (including the time during which the child affected by it is in police protection). After that, it can be extended for a further seven days; however, only when the court has the basis to believe that the child is likely to suffer significant harm if the EPO is not extended.

During this time, the applicant local authority needs to make a decision that will be in the child’s best interest – most likely the local authority will apply to the court for a care order or supervision order and start the legal process by submitting an application as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, there’s no way of appealing against an EPO. However, it doesn’t mean that nothing can be done. Certain people have the ability to apply to discharge the order if they haven’t received a notice or if they weren’t present during the court hearing – it can be done within 72 hours from the court’s decision.

When it comes to who can apply to discharge an EPO, the list comprises of:

  • the child
  • the child’s parents
  • any person that has parental responsibility for the child
  • any person, e. g. family member, with whom the child was living before the order was made – but only if they weren’t present at the court hearing.