Child with a backpack on an empty street

A Recovery Order is an order under Section 50 of the Children Act 1989.

A Recovery Order may be necessary when a child or young person who is in the care of a Local Authority or is in temporary police protection goes missing, runs away, or is unlawfully removed or withheld from the “responsible person”.

A “responsible person” is either a Local Authority or a designated police officer, if the child is being temporarily looked after under police powers of protection. A Recovery Order directs anyone who is in a position to do so, to provide information in order to assist in locating and “recovering” the child.

Under what circumstances might the Court make a Recovery Order?

The Court may make a Recovery Order if it has reason to believe any of the following: –

  • The child has been unlawfully taken or kept away from the responsible person. For example, if the child’s parent removes the child from the care of a local authority without permission.
  • The child has run away from their placement.
  • The child is missing.

How does the Recovery Order operate?

A Local Authority with parental responsibility for a child or a designated police officer may make an application for a Recovery Order.

A Recovery Order may direct anybody who is in a position to do so, to produce the child on the  request of any authorised person. An “authorised person” may include an officer of the Court, a police officer or a social worker. A direction may also be made anyone who has information about the whereabouts of a child to disclose that information to the Court.

A Recovery Order will only expire once the child has been recovered to a place of safety. In the event that the child is missing again, a new Recovery Order would have to be applied for.

A person who removes a child, or keeps them away, from a responsible person, or helps someone else to do so, may be guilty of an offence, the penalty for which can include up to 6 months imprisonment.


If you would like to discuss recovery orders, please contact our Family team who will be happy to help.