At any stage, a local authority can apply for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO)  to protect a child from “ongoing or imminent risk of physical, mental or emotional harm”. An EPO authorises the local authority to take the child from their home, or stop you taking your child home from hospital or other “safe place”. It should be made only where there are compelling reasons in exceptional circumstances. It can last for a maximum of eight days. Almost all applications are made by the local authority but the police or the NSPCC or even a relative could also apply. You should be given one day’s notice of an EPO application. However, the local authority can argue that the child’s life is under threat or that you may take the child from their home without permission. These hearings can take place without you even knowing they are happening.