Felicity explains: What is a Police Protection Order, and what can I do about it?

A Police Protection Order allows the police to remove and/or accommodate children in cases of emergency.

A police officer has the legal right to remove a child from a place, parent or situation, where they have reasonable cause to believe the child would otherwise be likely to suffer significant harm. 

(This could also allow for the prevention of the removal of a child by a parent or carer from a place such as a hospital)

The child may be kept at a police station or removed to suitable accommodation (e.g. a relative’s home or foster care via Children’s Services) for up to 72 hours.

This means that the local authority needs to apply to court within that time or return the child to their parents or carers.

The PPO is not necessarily a court application in itself, even though it is referred to as an ‘order’. It is a discretionary power, as the police have the power to use/exercise it if they believe there are grounds to do so.

The police can enforce this power when an officer has ‘reasonable cause to believe that a child would otherwise be likely to suffer significant harm’ S46 (1) Children Act 1989.

Unlike an interim care order, a PPO does not give the police parental responsibility; however the police must do what is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare.

Once a child has been removed, the police must inform the local authority’s Children’s Services department. They will make enquiries to decide whether an application for an emergency protection order or interim care order should be made.

If the local authority takes you to court, you should be entitled to automatic free legal aid for those proceedings.

The police must inform children’s services for them to carry out an investigation and decide whether to return the child or seek a further order.

The police should:

  • Inform the child’s parents, or anyone with parental responsibility for the child, as to what steps they are going to take
  • If possible / practicable find out the child’s wishes and feelings; and
  • Allow the parent, anyone with parental responsibility or the child’s carer to have a ‘reasonable amount’ of contact with the child.

How we can help

If you need help, please contact our experienced care proceedings and children services team who can help you with any concerns you may have. Contact our team, on our dedicated helpline 0161 694 4149 or email newcareenquiries@bromleys.co.uk. for your free initial telephone discussion. If you prefer, you can fill in our online form or alternatively, you can email us on bromleys@bromleys.co.uk and we’ll call you back.