(Family Division, Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division, 4 May 2017)
Public law children – Wardship – Approach of police and other agencies – Whether court approval was required
The President gave guidance on the interactions of the police and other agencies with wards of court.
The teenager, who was a ward of court, was approached by an officer of the Security Service. The local authority was involved due to issues of radicalisation and suggested that the officer should not have approached the ward without the prior authority of the court. It submitted that the officer was at risk of being in contempt.
The President highlighted the fact that there was a lack of clarity in the law on the matter and provided guidance on police/Security Service interactions with children who were wards of court. He concluded that there was no principle or rule that judicial consent was required before the police could interview a ward of court. There was a pressing need for para 5 of PD12D to be considered as a matter of urgency by the Family Procedure Rule Committee.In the meantime police officers, officers of the Security Service and others in a similar position should follow the guidance set out in Re G; Re R Note (Wards) (Police Interviews)  2 FLR 347.