What do I do if I receive a Public Law Outline (PLO) letter?

    What do I do if I receive a Public Law Outline (PLO) letter?

    What is a PLO letter?

    A PLO letter will be sent to you if a Local Authority become concerned about your child’s wellbeing.

    The Local Authority will send a letter to parents and persons with parental responsibility for the child before initiating care proceedings. This letter will ask you to attend a meeting with the Local Authority.

    The letter will be clearly marked, stating ‘Letter before proceedings’ and will encourage you not to ignore the letter.

    What is contained in the PLO letter?

    The letter will outline the concerns that the Local Authority have. The concerns will vary for every family. Examples of concerns are:

    • Unsuitable home conditions
    • Previous neglectful parenting
    • Not seeking medical advice for the children
    • Alcohol and/or drug usage
    • Contact with potentially harmful adults

    This list is not exhaustive. The Local Authority can raise any concerns that they may have in relation to the upbringing of your child.

    The Local Authority will detail the support that Children Social Services and other professionals have already offered to try and assist you.

    The letter will also advise you on steps that you must take. If you follow this advice, the Local Authority will unlikely make an application to the court to remove the child.

    Importantly, the letter will state that a meeting will take place to discuss the next steps and will provide you with a date, time and location of the meeting.

    What do I do after receiving the letter?

    If you receive a letter, it is vital that you contact a solicitor as a matter of urgency.

    Once you have instructed a solicitor, the solicitor will be able to attend the meeting with you. Your child’s social worker, solicitor for the Local Authority, the manager of Children’s Social Services will all be in attendance, along with other parties with parental responsibility and their solicitor.

    It is important that you attend the meeting with your solicitor to ensure that you are able to put forward your opinions on matters raised by the Local Authority. Your solicitor will assist you to put forward your views.

    In the meeting, the Local Authority will discuss the next steps and the further support that can be offered to you from the Local Authority.

    Engaging in this meeting is important. If you do not agree to arrangements, do not take positive steps to address the Local Authority’s concerns or fail to attend the meeting, the Local Authority could progress matters and apply to the court to initiate care proceedings.

    The PLO process is therefore your last opportunity to make the necessary improvements for your child.

    Do I need to pay for the legal advice?

    If you have parental responsibility for the child concerned in the matter, you will not have to pay for the legal advice. The solicitor will be able to apply for legal aid. To apply for legal aid, your solicitor will ask you to complete and sign a form named ‘Legal Help Form’.

    More information

    If you receive a PLO letter, it is very important that you contact a solicitor at the earliest opportunity. Porter Dodson specialise in this area of law and our designated Child Care Team will be happy to assist you. Please contact us on 01935 424581 and ask for a member of the Child Care Team. We will be happy to offer advice and representation at each meeting.


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