Intervention by the State in order to protect Children

Local Authorities Duty to investigate

S47(1) Children’s Act 1989

      (a) Where a local authority:

  • is the subject of an emergency protection order, or

  • is in police protection, or

  • has contravened a ban imposed by a curfew notice within the meaning of chapter 1 or Part 1 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1988;


(b) have reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives; or is found, in their area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm

the authority will either make or have made, all the enquiries they considered to be necessary in order to decide what action they should take to protect and safeguard a child’s welfare.

Enquiries made by the local Authority

Where a local authority is making enquiries regarding the welfare of a child they should take reasonable steps where possible to obtain access to the child or to ensure that someone else has gain access to the child on their behalf for the purpose of evaluating the situation. This person will be authorised by the authorities to gain access.

  • Considering the child’s view

For the purpose of coming to a conclusion, where it is possible and appropriate to do so, the local authority shall take into consideration the child’s wishes and feelings regarding the possible action that may be take in respect to him, giving due consideration to the age and understanding of the child to the possible outcomes.

  • Refused access or information

In any circumstances regarding the local authorities enquiries into the child, where the local authority or authorised person is refused access to the child or denied the information regarding the child’s whereabouts, the authority shall apply for an emergency protection order , a child assessment order a care order or a supervision order unless they are entirely satisfied that the welfare of the child can be safeguarded without doing so.

Police powers

S46 Children Act 1989 governs the powers the police will have in relation to the protection of children.

  • Where a constable has reasonable grounds to believe that a child may be likely to suffer significant harm without state intervention then he may remove the child placing that child in suitable accommodation, and/ or take the appropriate steps that are reasonable in the situation to ensure that the child’s removal from any hospital, or other place, in which he is being accommodated is prevented.

  • The police do not have the power to right to search or right to entry.

  • The police do not require parental responsibility over the child before they can perform their statutory functions.

  • This protection will last for a maximum of 3days before being referred to another authority. This is an immediate protection and an order will be issued following this to further protect the child.

Court ordered Investigation

S37(1) Children’s Act 1989 states, that in any family proceeding where a questions arises regarding the welfare of a child it will appear to the court that a care or supervision order may be appropriate and the court may direct the appropriate authority to undertake the appropriate investigation of the child’s circumstances in order for the court’s to make a conclusive decision.