(Queen's Bench Division, Beatson LJ and Bean J, 30 April 2014)
Care proceedings - Police powers of protection - Emergency protection order not obtained
The appeal against a determination the police officers were authorised to invoke their powers under s 46 of the Children Act 1989 to remove a child in the absence of an emergency protection order was dismissed.
The police attended the address in order to take the 9-year-old child into care using their powers under s 46 of the Children Act 1989. The local authority had concerns that the child would be trafficked out of the country following a family wedding. The police officer dealing with the case had known about the concerns since the previous day but maintained that there had been no opportunity to obtain an emergency protection order. He did not attend and did not brief the other officers involved.
The appellant obstructed one of the officers in his attempt to remove the child and was convicted of obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty. The appellant appealed. It fell to be determined whether the justices had been wrong to reject the submissions that an EPO should have been obtained rather than relying on the powers under s 46 of the 1989 Act.
The appeal was dismissed. It was well established that s 46 of the 1989 Act should only be invoked where it was not practicable to execute an EPO, but having regard to the paramount need to protect children from significant harm. The justices had been entitled to conclude that following the officer's enquiries it had been too late to make an application for an EPO and it was necessary to invoke the powers under s 46 of the 1989 Act. After the local authority had requested police assistance to remove the child the obvious inference was that it was necessary in order to protect the child from the risk of significant harm.