Using our legal powers
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the NSPCC is unique amongst charities as it has statutory powers to intervene on behalf of children.
In these nations, only local authorities and the NSPCC can apply to a court for a care, supervision, or child assessment order.
We refer to this as having 'Authorised Person Status' (APS) because in law we are described as an 'Authorised Person' to bring such proceedings.
We have had statutory powers to intervene on behalf of children for more than a century. These were most recently re-affirmed by the Children Act 1989 in England and Wales and the Children (NI) Order 1995 in Northern Ireland.
How we use our Authorised Person Status
We want to make sure the UK's child protection system is world class. For that reason we want to work constructively and in partnership with local agencies.
However we will use our authority to challenge decisions which we believe leave children at risk. In exceptional cases, we would consider using our Authorised Person Status to bring independent court proceedings.
In these circumstances we would follow our Concerns Resolution Procedure. This is used where differences occur between us and the local authority as to how a child at risk of significant harm, that we have made a referral about, is best protected. The procedure reinforces our commitment to working in a constructive and collaborative partnership with local authorities. It is envisaged that it will lead to a consensual resolution being reached between us and the local authority which ensures that the child's best interests are met, without independent court proceedings becoming necessary.
However, in exceptional circumstances where concerns have not been resolved and we believe a child is being left at risk of significant harm, we may use our Authorised Person Status to apply to the court for an order to protect that child.
In Scotland where we do not have Authorised Person Status a separate procedure applies. As with the procedure used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it will be used where differences occur between us and the local authority social work services as to how a child at risk of significant harm, that we have made a referral about, is best protected.
Here, in exceptional circumstances where concerns have not been resolved and we believe a child is being left at risk of significant harm, instead of taking independent court proceedings we would consider making a referral to the Children’s Reporter.
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