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An emergency protection order (EPO) is an order issued with the aim of protecting a child from ongoing or imminent risk of physical, mental or emotional harm where emergency action is needed. Subject to certain exceptions, it can be made for a maximum period of eight days.
Anyone can apply to the court for an emergency protection order if they fear that a child is in danger. For example, if a family member has very serious concerns that a child is being abused, they could apply for an emergency protection order. Almost all applications are made by the local authority but the police or the NSPCC could also apply.
The applicant usually has to give the parents one day’s notice of their application for an emergency protection order. However, in particularly serious situations, there is no need to issue any notice. This could include situations where the child’s life is under threat or it is believed that a parent will take the child from their home without permission.
An EPO authorises the applicant to remove the child from his home, or prevent the child’s removal from hospital or other safe place.