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Salford Children's Services Procedures Manual Salford City Council website

1.3.2 Police Powers of Protection/Emergency Protection Orders


  1. Introduction
  2. Police Powers
  3. Emergency Protection Orders

1. Introduction

This protocol has been drawn up as a reference document for those making operational decisions in relation to the exercise of powers of Police Protection and applications for Emergency Protection Orders for children suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm in Salford. It is not intended to be an exclusive guide and should be read in conjunction with the appropriate statutory provisions and guidance, Children’s Services procedures and Greater Manchester SCP Procedures.

Emergency action may be necessary at any point during involvement with children, parents or carers. Such action should normally be preceded by a Strategy Discussion. In these circumstances this may take the form of a telephone conversation between the relevant agencies.

2. Police Powers

Police Protection powers will be exercised at any time that the relevant police officer has reasonable cause to believe that a child would otherwise be likely to suffer Significant Harm if the child is not removed or kept in suitable accommodation. Ordinarily this will be where there is an immediate or imminent likelihood of suffering Significant Harm to a child. No child may be kept in police protection for more than 72 hours.

Once this power has been exercised the Police Officer must do the following:

  • Inform Children’s Services in whose area the child was found of the steps that have been taken and are proposed to be taken and why;
  • Inform Children’s Services in whose area the child resides;
  • Inform the child and take such steps that are reasonably practicable to discover the wishes of the child;
  • Inform the parents of the child (if appropriate) and every person who is not a child but has Parental Responsibility for the child;
  • Inform person with whom the child is living;
  • Ensure the case is brought to the immediate attention of the designated officer and PPIU Child Protection Team;
  • Complete form (need to check which form police complete) with a log of actions taken.

Whenever a serious concern or event occurs after 4.30pm or at weekends and where a police officer considers a child to be at immediate risk, s/he should contact their Designated Officer and the Emergency Duty Team, Children’s Services for advice and discussion.

In the event that there is a need to take immediate protective action in relation to a child during these hours it is likely that this will require the exercise of police protection powers. Whilst it is possible for an application to be made by the local authority for an Emergency Protection Order out of hours it is likely that this will take a number of hours to arrange and this may not afford the child the immediate protection that is required.

During working hours there may also be the need for the police to exercise Police Powers of Protection where the child is at immediate risk and the circumstances are such that there is insufficient time to apply for an Emergency Protection Order to safeguard the child.

Examples of circumstances where it may be appropriate for the Police to exercise their Police Powers of Protection are set out below, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list as the determining factor is whether the child is at imminent risk and Police Power of Protection is considered to be the most effective way of protecting the child:

  • In circumstances where a Child Protection Plan is in place for an unborn child to remain in hospital after birth; if a parent attempts to remove the child from hospital, Police Powers of Protection may need to be used to ensure the child remains in hospital until relevant steps are taken;
  • In circumstances where a child is undergoing medical investigation with regard to a suspected non-accidental injury; if a parent attempts to remove the child from hospital, Police Powers of Protection may be used to ensure that the child remains in hospital until the medical investigation is completed and a Child Protection Plan formulated;
  • During a joint Section 47 Enquiry, where the child is considered to be at immediate risk, it would not be appropriate to leave the child in the position of risk whilst an application for an Emergency Protection Order is applied for.

The police should wherever possible consult with the Emergency Duty Service (0161 794 8888) and/or The Referrals and Assessment Team (0161 603 4500) prior to exercising Police Protection powers to determine if alternative solutions can be found to ensure the child(ren)’s safety e.g. an accommodation arrangement within the extended family.

3. Emergency Protection Orders

In cases where the statutory criteria for an Emergency Protection Order are believed to be met an application for an Order may be made. Children’s Services managers should seek legal advice and must ensure that consideration has been given to the matters referred to in the Judgement Re X Council v B and others [2004] (see Section 6, X Council v B Guidance of Applications for Emergency Protection Orders Procedure) EWCH 2015 and Re X: Emergency Protection Orders [2006] EWCH 510. In particular, there is a requirement to provide evidence of imminent danger to the child; separation is only to be considered if this is essential to secure the child’s safety.

Where domestic abuse is a significant risk factor then full detailed, precise and compelling evidence must be provided of convictions and incidents that have occurred, the non abusing parent’s ability to protect and any additional issues, such as mental health concerns or substance/alcohol abuse and the risk of imminent danger.

Emergency Protection Orders will usually be ‘on notice’ to parties except when the giving of notice is likely to result in harm to the child. Harm in this context will include a likelihood of someone absconding with the child, and /or causing physical or emotional harm to the child. It will also include instances when giving notice would substantially prejudice the progress of an investigation relating to allegations concerning conduct involving the child or other children.

Within normal court hours a representative of Manchester City Council’s Legal Services Team will provide legal advice to Children’s Services in Salford and will prepare the application for court and arrange legal representation for the court hearing. 

Where it is considered necessary to access legal advice in respect of an emergency application to the court outside office hours the Emergency Duty Service have the telephone numbers of solicitors from legal services whom they may contact to seek advice. The Emergency Duty Team also have the emergency contact numbers for Manchester Civil Justice Centre

During public holidays the Emergency Duty Team will be provided with the arrangements for access to emergency legal advice by legal services (see Salford Intranet page).