Police Protection Order

Police Protection Order
Police Protection Order
Full Overview Of Police Protection Order

The Police Protection Order (PPO) is an important legal tool used in the United Kingdom to protect the welfare of children considered to be at immediate risk of harm. This order enables police officers to act quickly and decisively to ensure the child’s safety by removing them from a potentially dangerous situation and placing them in a secure environment. This overview aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of police protection orders, including their legal framework, implementation process, implications, and considerations for all involved parties.

What Is A Police Protection Order?

A Police Protection Order empowers the police to remove a child from their home or any other place where they are found, if it is believed that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm. This order is typically used in emergency situations where there is an immediate threat to the child’s safety, such as cases of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence.

Police Protection Orders are governed by Section 46 of the Children Act 1989. This legislation grants police officers the authority to take a child into protective custody without a court order if they believe the child is at risk of significant harm. The primary objective of a PPO is to provide immediate protection to the child, while longer-term arrangements are made by social services and the courts.

The Process of Implementing a Police Protection Order

Implementing a Police Protection Order involves several steps, each requiring careful assessment, swift action, and coordination with social services.

Identification of Risk

The process begins with the identification of a child at risk. This can occur through various channels, including reports from concerned individuals, observations by police officers, or referrals from social services. The key criterion is that the child must be at immediate risk of significant harm.

Decision to Invoke a PPO

Once the risk is identified, the police must decide whether to invoke a PPO. This decision is based on a thorough assessment of the situation, considering the evidence of harm or potential harm to the child. The police must also consider whether there are any alternative means to protect the child without resorting to a PPO.

Taking the Child into Protective Custody

If the decision is made to invoke a PPO, the police have the authority to take the child into protective custody. This involves physically removing the child from the harmful environment and ensuring their immediate safety. The police must also inform the child’s parents or guardians of the action taken and the reasons for it.

Placement in a Safe Environment

Once the child is in protective custody, the police must arrange for the child to be placed in a safe environment. This could involve placing the child with a family member, in foster care, or a designated children’s home. The priority is to ensure the child’s immediate safety and well-being.

Notification to Social Services

Following the removal of the child, the police must notify social services as soon as possible. Social services then take over responsibility for the child’s welfare, conducting further assessments and making longer-term arrangements to ensure the child’s safety and stability.

Duration and Limits of a Police Protection Order

A Police Protection Order can last for a maximum of 72 hours. During this time, social services must conduct a thorough assessment of the child’s situation and determine the next steps. These steps may include applying for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) from the court, starting care proceedings, or returning the child to their home if it is considered safe to do so.

Implications of a Police Protection Order

A Police Protection Order has significant implications for the child, their family, and the agencies involved in their care.

For the Child

For the child, a PPO provides immediate safety and protection from harm. However, it can also be a distressing experience, involving sudden removal from their home and separation from their family. Ensuring the child receives appropriate emotional support and care is crucial during this period.

For the Family

For the family, a PPO can be a traumatic event, often resulting in shock, confusion, and emotional distress. Parents or guardians may feel a sense of loss and helplessness, and it is essential to provide them with clear information and support to understand the process and their rights.

For Social Services

For social services, a PPO necessitates prompt action and coordination to assess the child’s needs and arrange for their longer-term care. Social workers must work closely with the police, the family, and other relevant agencies to ensure a comprehensive and effective response.

Challenges and Considerations

While Police Protection Orders are vital for safeguarding children, they also present several challenges and considerations that must be addressed.

Balancing Immediate Safety and Emotional Impact

One of the primary challenges is balancing the need for immediate safety with the potential emotional impact on the child. Removing a child from their home can be distressing, and efforts must be made to provide reassurance and support to minimise trauma.

Legal and Procedural Compliance

Ensuring compliance with legal and procedural requirements is essential when implementing a PPO. Police officers and social workers must be well-versed in the relevant legislation and follow protocols meticulously to protect the child’s rights and welfare.

Coordination and Communication

Effective coordination and communication between the police, social services, and other agencies are crucial for the success of a PPO. Timely information sharing and collaborative decision-making help ensure that the child’s needs are met promptly and appropriately.

Support and Resources

Providing support and resources is vital to ensuring the effectiveness of Police Protection Orders and the well-being of all parties involved.

For the Child

Children under a PPO need specialised support to help them deal with the sudden change and any trauma they may have experienced. This support includes access to counselling, therapy, and opportunities to express their feelings and concerns.

For the Family

Families impacted by a protection order (PPO) need access to clear information, guidance, and emotional support to navigate the process. Providing resources such as legal advice, support groups, and counselling can help parents or guardians understand their rights and responsibilities and cope with the emotional impact.

For Professionals

Police officers, social workers, and other professionals involved in implementing Protection Orders benefit from ongoing training and resources to enhance their skills and knowledge. This includes training on child protection laws, assessment techniques, and trauma-informed care.

Alternatives to Police Protection Orders

While Police Protection Orders are essential for emergency child protection, alternative options may be more appropriate in certain situations.

Emergency Protection Orders (EPOs)

An Emergency Protection Order (EPO) is another legal tool used to protect children at risk of significant harm. Unlike a PPO, an EPO is granted by the court and can last for up to eight days, with the possibility of an extension. EPOs provide a longer-term solution compared to PPOs and involve judicial oversight.

Child Assessment Orders

A Child Assessment Order allows social services to assess a child’s health and development to determine if they are at risk of significant harm. This order does not remove the child from their home but requires parents or guardians to cooperate with the assessment process. It is used when there are concerns about a child’s welfare but not immediate danger.

Navigating the complexities of police protection orders and alternative arrangements requires expert legal and professional guidance. Engaging the services of solicitors, social workers, and counsellors is crucial to ensuring a fair and legally sound process.

Legal Advice

Solicitors play a crucial role in guiding clients through the legal aspects of police protection orders. They assist in understanding the implications of the order, represent clients in court if necessary, and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

Social Work Support

Social workers are essential in assessing the child’s needs, supporting the family, and making arrangements for the child’s care. Their expertise ensures that the child’s welfare is prioritised throughout the process.

Counselling and Emotional Support

Counsellors and therapists provide valuable support to children and families affected by PPOs, helping them cope with the emotional challenges and trauma associated with the order.

Case Studies and Practical Examples

To demonstrate the practical application of police protection orders, consider the following case studies:

Case Study 1: Emily’s Story

Emily, a 6-year-old girl, was found wandering alone late at night by a concerned neighbour. Upon investigation, the police discovered that Emily’s parents were heavily intoxicated and unable to care for her. The officers decided to invoke a PPO to ensure Emily’s immediate safety. She was placed with a foster family, and social services conducted a thorough assessment of her home environment. The PPO provided Emily with the protection she needed while longer-term arrangements were made.

Case Study 2: Liam’s Experience

Liam, a 10-year-old boy, was living in a household with ongoing domestic violence. During a particularly severe incident, the police were called to the scene and found Liam hiding in fear. Recognising the immediate risk to Liam’s safety, the officers invoked a PPO and placed him with a relative. Social services were notified, and they initiated care proceedings to secure a stable and safe environment for Liam. The PPO was crucial in removing him from immediate danger and initiating protective measures.


Police protection orders play a crucial role in the child protection system by ensuring the immediate safety of children who are at risk of significant harm. It’s important to understand the legal framework, process, and implications of PPOs in order to make well-informed decisions and achieve the best outcomes for children.

Dealing with PPOs’ challenges and emotional impact requires comprehensive support and resources for children, families, and professionals. Legal and professional guidance is essential to navigate the complexities of the process and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

At DLS Solicitors, we are dedicated to providing expert legal support and guidance to clients who are dealing with Police Protection Orders. Our experienced team is here to help you understand the implications of PPOs, represent you in court, and ensure that the welfare of the child remains the top priority. Whether you need to understand your rights, support a child at risk, or navigate the legal process, we are here to help you achieve the best possible outcome.

Police Protection Order FAQ'S

A Police Protection Order (PPO) is an emergency measure where police officers can remove a child from their home or other settings if they believe the child is at imminent risk of harm. This power is granted under Section 46 of the Children Act 1989.

A child can be kept under a PPO for up to 72 hours. During this time, the police must make arrangements for the child’s safety and well-being.

After a PPO is issued, the police must inform the local authority, which is responsible for assessing the child’s situation and deciding on the next steps, including applying for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO).


Parents or guardians can object, but the police have the authority to proceed if they believe the child is in immediate danger. Parents can seek legal advice and potentially challenge the PPO in court.

Parents have the right to be informed of the reason for the PPO and should be provided with information about their rights and the steps they can take, including seeking legal advice.

No, a PPO cannot be extended beyond 72 hours. However, within this period, the local authority can apply for an Emergency Protection Order or other legal measures to ensure the child’s ongoing protection.

A PPO is an emergency measure taken by the police without court involvement and lasts for up to 72 hours. An Emergency Protection Order (EPO) is granted by a court and can last up to 8 days, with a possible extension.

Parents should cooperate with the authorities to understand the reasons for the PPO and seek legal advice immediately to understand their rights and options.

Yes, the police and social workers should inform the child, in an age-appropriate manner, about what is happening and why, and also about their rights.

While a PPO itself is not typically subject to appeal due to its urgent nature, parents can challenge subsequent legal actions, such as an Emergency Protection Order, by seeking legal advice and presenting their case in court.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th July 2024.

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