Purpose of an Emergency Protection Order
The reason for an
emergency protection order
is to enable a child in a genuine emergency to be removed from where
he is, or be kept where he is, depending on the given circumstances
in order to provide short-term protection.
The emergency protection order is an extremely
serious step which should not be taken lightly or regarded as a
routine step in family law proceedings for the protection of
Who can apply for an emergency protection
order and on what grounds can they apply?
The emergency protection order is entirely
forward looking considering the likely future happenings.
S44(1) (Children’s Act 1989)
Where any person applies to the court for an
emergency protection order to be made under this section, with
respect to a child, the court may make the order if and only if they
are satisfied that that:
- There is reasonable cause to believe that
the child is likely to suffer significant harm if not removed
and taken to new accommodation provided by or on behalf of the
applicant, or if he does not remain in the accommodation where
he is being provided treatment.
- Or where an application is made by a
local authority or for instance NSPCC, and there are enquiries
being made with regards to the child’s welfare and these
enquiries are being aggravated by access to the child being
unreasonable refused to the authorised person who is conducting
the enquiries and that this person believes that the access to
the child is a matter of urgency .
Ex Parte Applications
Most emergency protection orders may, and most
commonly are made ex parte. Ex parte cases do not require all
parties to the court case to be present during the hearing.
Effects of an emergency protection order
- While an emergency protection order is in
place it operates as a direction/ order to any person who is in
a position to do so to comply with any requests to produce the
child to the person in authority.
- The emergency protection order authorises
the removal of the child at any time to accommodation that is
provided by or on behalf of the applicant and the child must be
- The order also authorises the prevention
of the child’s removal from any hospital or place the child may
be receiving treatment.
- An Emergency protection order also gives
the applicant parental responsibility for the child concerned.
- The applicant who receives parental
responsibility through the use of an emergency protection order
must only exercise their parental responsibilities as so far as
it is for the protection of the child’s welfare.
- Where the person holding parental
responsibility is required to return the child, he shall do so
either to the person from who’s care the child was removed or if
that is not reasonably practical they must return him to the
care of his parents, any person who may not be a parent but
holds parental responsibility or such persons the courts
- A provision in the order may direct where
appropriate who should and should not have contact with the child.
- The applicant shall, subject to the courts
directions, allow reasonable contact between the child and the
Duration of an Emergency Protection order
- The maximum duration of an Emergency
Protection order is Eight days. Where the person who applied for the
emergency protection order is the local authority or the NSPCC a
limited extension for a further seven days may be granted . Only one
extension is permitted.
- There may be an application made for the
discharge of the Emergency protection order. This application for
discharge may be brought by the child, the parents, persons with
parental responsibility and any person whom the child was living
with immediately prior to the execution if the Emergency Protection
- This discharge cannot be applied for within
the first 72 hours following the establishment of the order.
Can the alleged abuser be removed instead?
Originally, The Children’s Act 1989, did not
provide any provisions for the removal of the alleged abuser instead
of the child and many local authorities tried to bring actions of
this nature all of which where unsuccessful.
The Family Law Act 1996 amended the Children’s
act 1989 to include the exclusion requirement within the emergency
An exclusion requirement is any one of the
- A provision requiring the relevant person
to leave the dwelling house in which they live with the child
who is subject to the emergency protection order.
- A provision prohibiting the relevant
person from entering a dwelling house in which the child who is
subject to the emergency protection order lives.
- A provision excluding the relevant
persons from a specified area in which the dwelling house of the
person subject to the emergency protection order is located.
Where the court issues an emergency
protection order with the provision of an exclusion order they can
also attach to this order the power to arrest if any of the
condition defined within the protection order are breached.