Concerns about children

Several Acts of Parliament, including the Children and Young Persons Acts of 1933 , the Children Act 1989 , the Care Standards Act 2000 , the Adoption and Children Act 2002 , and more recently the Childcare Act 2006 , provide that specific officials in particular circumstances may enjoy, or be given powers, to enter places where children reside, are educated, or are being cared for.

The provisions are too numerous to describe in detail. The places in question can range from schools (including independent schools) to foster homes, care homes, accommodation provided on behalf of local authorities, and your home. Generally these powers are linked to concerns for a child’s well-being or welfare. The powers may in some cases be exercisable for other purposes, for example if there are concerns about the education which a child is receiving, or the possibility that the child is working illegally . Occasionally the power of entry is coupled with a power to conduct a search and to remove relevant documents.

The relevant official must produce an official document, showing that he or she has the right to enter. In most cases it will be an offence to refuse to allow the official to enter if he or she is properly exercising the power to do so,, punishable by fines with a maximum limit typically at level 3 (currently £2,000), but occasionally at level 4 (£2,500), depending upon the power which the official is seeking to exercise. However, occasionally an official cannot enter without your consent, for example in some instances where various officials would like to use power of entry for education assessment under sections 42(1), 42 (4) or 77(2) of the Childcare Act 2006.

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