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1.7 Immediate protection

Where there is a risk to the life of a child, or the possibility of serious immediate harm, an agency with statutory child protection powers (the police, NSPCC or local authority children's social care in the area where the child is ‘found’) should act quickly to secure the immediate safety of the child.

When considering whether emergency action is required, this agency should always consider whether action is also required to safeguard and promote the welfare of other children in the same household, the household of an alleged perpetrator, and/or in contact with alleged abusers.

Immediate protection may be achieved by:

  • a parent taking action to remove an alleged abuser
  • an alleged abuser agreeing to leave the home
  • the child not returning to the home
  • the child being removed either on a voluntary basis or by obtaining an emergency protection order (EPO)
  • removal of the child, or prevention of removal from a place of safety, under police powers of protection
  • gaining entry to the household under police powers to assess the situation.

Planned emergency action will normally take place following an immediate strategy meeting/discussion between police/local authority children's social care/the NSCPCC and other agencies as appropriate.

Police powers of protection should only be used in exceptional circumstances where there is insufficient time to seek an Emergency Protection Order or for reasons relating to the immediate safety of the child.

Emergency action addresses only the immediate circumstances of the child. It should be followed quickly by a section 47 enquiry and an assessment of the needs and circumstances of the child and family as necessary.

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