Protecting children in an emergency - getting the balance right

25 JUN 2007

Lynn Davis, Solicitor, Consultant to Davis Simmonds and Donaghey, Kent. It is only in the most drastic situations that emergency protection orders (EPOs) are needed. Such situations demand robust law and procedure and sound professional practice but recent cases have revealed the worrying extent to which these requirements are deficient.

This article takes an in depth look at the law governing EPOs. The first question that should be asked is what constitutes an emergency? What are the notice requirements and options for EPOs, and which human rights issues arise from these? What follows these questions is a detailed examination of all the factors relevant to EPOs: local authority processes; issues of evidence; service; the length of the order; acting on the order; the availability of reasoned explanations for decisions; the right to discharge; and the absence of appeal provisions. Considering the way forward, the author makes some practical suggestions for improvements to practice and identifies areas where statute and rules need amendment. For the full article see July [2007] Fam Law.

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