1 Local Authorities and their Duties
Local authorities have a range of general and specific duties to provide support for children and their families in their area including the provision of services, advice and assistance for children/young persons formerly looked after by the local authority and a number of miscellaneous and general duties for children. The specific duties of the local authority are contained within the section on Roles, Responsibilities and Resources in the Children's Hearings Handbook Volume 2.
Protection of children in their area
A local authority must make all necessary enquiries into a child's circumstances if they consider that the child is in need of protection, guidance, treatment or control and that a compulsory supervision order may be necessary. In these circumstances the local authority must give any information to the reporter so that the reporter can make an investigation into the referral if appropriate. (s 60)
This may result in the reporter making a decision to arrange a children's hearing if there is enough evidence to support at least one of the s67 grounds and that it is necessary that a compulsory supervision order be made in respect of the child.
Emergency protection of children in their area
A local authority may make an application to the sheriff for a child protection order ( CPO). The sheriff may make an order if satisfied that
- the child has been, or is being, treated in such a way that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm
- the child has been, or is being, neglected and as a result of the neglect the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm
- the child will be treated or neglected in such a way that it is likely to cause significant harm to the child. (s 38)
The local authority has the same duties towards a child who is subject to child protection order and has been removed by them to a place of safety as they would towards a child who is looked after by them: this includes safeguarding and promoting their welfare, making services available to them and taking such steps to promote contact. (s.44)
A CPO allows the child to be protected immediately. For more information on emergency protection of children see section 10 of the Legislation and Procedure Handbook.