Family courts have the power to make orders to protect children from harm caused by abuse or neglect.

In most cases, this will be a care order, placing the child in the care of the local authority. In other cases, it may be a residence order or special guardianship order, which places the child in the care of a member of the extended family, such as a grandparent, uncle or aunt. Sometimes, it is necessary for the court to make temporary arrangements to protect a child from immediate risk while longer-term plans for their care are made.

In an emergency, a magistrates' court can make an emergency protection order, which authorises the separation of a child and its parents for up to eight days. Alternatively, a police officer can remove a child who is thought to be at risk to a place of safety for up to 72 hours. Anyone can apply for an emergency protection order, but we would not recommend that you do this. If you are worried that a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, contact us. In an emergency, always ring 999.

We publish a  child protection guide for young people (pdf / 130 KB) and a  child protection guide for parents and carers (pdf / 634 KB).

What to do if you're worried a child is being abused is a guide published by the Department for Education.