Police protection (Children Act 1989, s.46) is a long-established police power allowing the removal or detention of children suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. This article outlines the findings of research into its use and discusses how it is viewed by the police and social workers. It explores how the use of the power affects relationships between parents and children, between families and social services, and between social services and the police. Rather than merely being about protecting children, the power operates to protect the police, social services and families; both police officers and social workers acknowledge this. It also re-balances relationships between parents and children, and between families and social services. This changing balance is not only in the way that might be expected (removing power from children and families and giving it to the state); alliance with the police can assist children and parents to make demands on social services.
Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law