- New Enquiries
What is an Emergency Protection Order (EPO)?
- AuthorJasmine Lees
An Emergency Protection Order (EPO) is a time limited protective order for emergency situation whereby there is reasonable cause to believe that a child is likely to suffer significant harm on 3 grounds:
- The child is not removed (i.e. from a home address) or does not remain in a place where currently accommodated (i.e. a hospital)
- Enquiries are being made by the Local Authority under section 47 and those enquiries are being frustrated by access to the child being unreasonably refused where access is required as a matter of urgency (usually used when parents fail to cooperate in an emergency situation)
- The Local Authority or the NSPCC suspects that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, they are making enquiries with respect of the child’s welfare and those enquiries are being frustrated by access to the child being unreasonably refused.
Who can apply for an EPO?
Most applications for an EPO come from the Local Authority but concerned relatives, the police or an organisation such as the NSPCC can also apply for an Order to be made by the Court under section 44 of the Children Act 1989.
An EPO is considered an extreme measure and is therefore only granted where no other option is considered appropriate. The Court must be satisfied that the making of an EPO is proportionate to the concerns for the child and that if an Order is not made they will be in imminent danger. They must be satisfied that the making of an order is better than not making the order to ensure the welfare of the child.
Parents or others who hold parental responsibility for the child must be given adequate notice of the application for an EPO and be told of the time, date and place of the hearing although in exceptional circumstances this may not happen due to it being made in an emergency.
What is the impact of an EPO?
Once an Order has been made, the child can be removed to accommodation provided by or on behalf of the applicant such as a foster placement or the order can specify that the child should stay where they are such as in hospital.
The order can also restrict the child from going to the location that is deemed unsafe or from leaving somewhere if it is deemed in their best interests such as the hospital. The Court can also direct for assessments of the child during that time such as a medical assessment.
The making of an order can also direct a person to comply with any request to produce the child to the applicant to ensure their safety if their whereabouts are unknown or access is restricted.
As part of the application to the Court, an Exclusion Order may be applied for to restrict a person residing in a house or require them to leave the home if this will cease the child from being at risk of significant and imminent harm.
Will I still hold parental responsibility?
The granting of an EPO gives limited parental responsibility for the child to the applicant but this does not diminish or reduce others parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is the legal power that lets adults make day to day decisions for children. The applicant can then only use their parental responsibility to reasonably safeguard the child during this time.
How long can an EPO last?
An EPO can last for a maximum of 8 days but in some circumstances this can be extended by the Court for a further 7 days in order to ensure the child’s safety.
During this time, the Local Authority is required to consider and review the level of risk day to day. If it is decided that the risk is no longer present for the child, it is the duty of the Local Authority to reunite the parents and the child as soon as is reasonably practical if it is safe to do so even if the order has not expired.
If they feel that risk still exists for the child and that the child cannot be returned to the care of their parents, they may initiate care proceedings for the child for a further protective order.
Can I have contact with my child during an EPO?
Contact is presumed when a child is subject to an EPO and the applicant must allow the child reasonable contact with:
- Any person with parental responsibility
- Any person the child living with immediately prior the order
- Any person who has an existing Child Arrangements Order
The Court can give directions as to contact for example if this should be supervised or how often this should take place etc.
How Johnson Astills can help?
If you have been informed that the Local Authority have applied for an Emergency Protection Order . Please contact Johnson Astills at either our Leicester Office on 0116 255 4855 or our Loughborough Office on 01509 610 312 and ask for a member of the Care Team so that we can advise you accordingly. Alternatively, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.