CHILD/ POLICE PROTECTION: A (A Child) v Chief Constable of Dorset Police [2010] EWHC 1748 (Admin)

13 AUG 2010

(Family Division; Blake J; 16 July 2010)

The police forcibly removed a child from a fast food outlet late at night and informed the parents that although the child had not committed a crime and was not in trouble, the child had been seen with an ‘inappropriate adult'. The child was detained at the police station for about one-and-a-half hours then taken home. The child sought a judicial review of the detention. 

The issue was whether the police's action was authorised under the Children Act 1989, s 46 and whether the police were obliged to provide detailed reasons for decision or whether it was sufficient to provide broad outline of reasons.

The action was based on a constable having reasonable cause to believe that the child would otherwise be likely to suffer significant harm. It emerged that the police were concerned about a specific individual, and that the child and his companions without adult supervision were about to go back to the individual's home. The specific individual applied for a suppression of the detailed information.

The police had to justify its action and satisfy the court that what had honestly been feared was within the ambit of the statute, and was based upon reasonable grounds.The police sought to rely upon material of a private nature in public domain with potential adverse implications for the rights of the specific adult concerned.

The court could not compel the child to accept that information would be disclosed to his/her legal team but not to the child. The child agreed to this provided he/she was supplied with the gist of the police case. 

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