Emergency protection orders

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.

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What happens if an EPO is granted?

If an emergency protection order is granted, the court may give permission for the local authority to enter a premises to search for the child. A court can also issue a warrant to the police who may support social services if they are refused entry or access to the child.

It is against the law to prevent the local authority from carrying out their duties under an emergency protection order.

If you are a parent that has received notice of an application for an emergency protection order, or whose child is subject to an emergency protection order, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Please call us on 0203 816 0548 for a free, no obligation initial chat with one of our legal advisors.

Stephensons’ family law team has a strong reputation for achieving positive outcomes for its clients. The department was voted the Family Law Firm of the Year in 2014 and is accredited in the Legal 500 and the Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession as ‘leaders in the field of child care’.

Is legal aid available for emergency protection orders?

In the event that social services are applying for an emergency protection order in relation to your children, legal aid is always automatically available - it may also be available to extended family members but will depend on whether they are eligible by way of their means and the strength of their case.

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