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4.4 Immediate Protection

Where there is a risk to the life of a child or a likelihood of serious immediate harm, an agency with statutory child protection powers ( Lincolnshire County Council, Police and the NSPCC) should act quickly to secure the immediate safety of the child. Emergency action might be necessary as soon as a referral is received, or at any point in involvement with children and families (see Statutory Framework Procedure). The need for emergency action may become apparent only over time as more is learned about the circumstances of a child or children. Neglect, as well as abuse, can pose such a risk of suffering significant harm to a child that urgent protective action is needed.

When considering if emergency action is necessary, an agency should always consider whether action is also required to safeguard other children in the same household (e.g. siblings), the household of an alleged perpetrator, or elsewhere.

Planned emergency action will normally take place following an immediate Strategy Discussion between police, Children's Social Care and other agencies as appropriate (including NSPCC where involved). Where a single agency has to act immediately to protect a child, a Strategy Discussion should take place as soon as possible after such action to plan next steps. Legal advice must be obtained before initiating legal action, in particular when an Emergency Protection Order is to be sought.

Immediate protection may be achieved by:

  • Gaining entry to the household under police powers
  • Parental use of Children Act 1989 private law provision e.g. Prohibited Steps Orders
  • An alleged abuser agreeing to leave the home
  • The removal of the alleged abuser
  • Voluntary agreement for the child or children to move to a safer place with or without a protective person
  • Application for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO)
  • Removal of the child or children under Police powers of Police Protection

Lincolnshire Children's Social Care, in circumstances that require emergency action, is responsible for taking that action if the child is found within Lincolnshire. If the child is looked after by, or subject to a Child Protection Plan of, another authority, Lincolnshire Children's Services Social Care will consult the authority responsible for the child. Only when the home authority explicitly accepts responsibility is Lincolnshire Children's Services Social Care relieved of the responsibility to take emergency action. Such acceptance should be confirmed in writing.

Emergency action addresses only the immediate circumstance of the child(ren). It should be followed quickly by Section 47 enquiries as necessary. The agencies primarily involved with the child and family should then assess the circumstances of the child and family, and agree action to safeguard the child in the longer-term and to promote his or her welfare. Where an Police Protection Order applies, Children's Social Care needs to consider quickly whether to initiate care or other proceedings or to let the order lapse and let the child return home. The social worker should obtain legal advice before initiating legal action and seek the agreement of the Head of Service before commencing any legal proceedings.

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