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Adoption and Children Act (Northern Ireland) 2022

Section 27: General prohibitions on removal

Section 27 imposes general prohibitions on removal and is subject to sections 28 to 30. Under subsection (1)(a), where a child is placed with prospective adopters under section 16, it is an offence for a person other than the adoption agency to remove the child from that placement (subsections (1) and (8)). Under subsection (1)(b), where a child is placed for adoption and either the child is less than 6 weeks old or the agency has not been authorised to place the child for adoption, the same offence applies. This ensures that where a child is placed with the mother’s consent while under 6 weeks of age, but the agency is later unable to secure the mothers consent under section 16, the restrictions on removal would continue to apply to the placement. Subsection (1) applies even if the parent has withdrawn their consent to placement.

If a child is accommodated by an authority and it has applied for a placement order and the application has not been disposed of, the child may not be removed from the accommodation pending the determination of that application without the leave of the court (section 27(2) and (8)). Where an adoption agency is authorised to place a child for adoption but the child is not yet placed and is being provided with accommodation by an agency in, for example, a foster placement or a children's home, it is an offence for a person other than the agency to remove the child from that accommodation (section 27(3) and (8)). Subsection (3) applies if the parent or guardian has withdrawn consent to placement.

The general prohibitions on removal set out in this section are subject to the specific provisions made in sections 28 to 30 but those sections do not apply if the child is subject to a care order (subsection (4)). But the provisions in sections 27 to 30 covering prohibition on removal do not prevent the removal of a child who is arrested, or removal as a result of the exercise by an authority or other person of a power conferred by any enactment (excluding the right under Article 22(2) of the Children Order of a person who has parental responsibility for a child to remove a child voluntarily accommodated by an authority) (subsections (6) and (7)).

Subsection (8) provides that a person who removes a child in breach of subsection (1), (2) or (3) is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 months or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or both.

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