Public Law Outline (PLO) Meetings
What is a Pre-proceedings or PLO Meeting?
If a Local Authority has concerns with a parent’s ability to meet the needs of their child or be protective of them, the parent is given notice of a Pre-Proceedings Meeting.
The Local Authority will already believe that they have sufficient evidence to warrant Care Proceedings but will want to give the parent the chance to make improvements to their life and their lifestyle.
The Local Authority will then give the parent 6-8 weeks to make these recommended improvements.
Examples of such concerns, might include:
- The parent’s drug and/or alcohol abuse.
- The state of a parent’s mental health.
- Any neglect issues.
If the Local Authority decide that a situation is urgent, they will consider applying for an Emergency Protection Order.
If the baby has not yet been born, then care proceedings can’t start. (Around a third of pre-proceedings cases involve pre-birth assessments.) If the Local Authority is worried about someone who is pregnant and they want to consider starting proceedings after birth, the pre-proceedings stage can be useful for trying to set a workable framework, so that the family can be kept together.
The time before birth, also allows for the parents to obtain legal advice relating to the pre-birth assessments, and the proposals for after the baby is born.
If you are asked to attend a pre-proceedings meeting it is important to contact us immediately.
What is the Letter Before Proceedings?
If it is decided that the situation is not so serious as to require immediate removal of a child, the Local Authority will issue a ‘letter before proceedings’ to the parents. The Local Authority will phrase the letter in an easy to understand way, so that the parents will be able to fully comprehend what the letter means.
The letter will normally contain:
- A summary of what the Local Authority has concerns about;
- A summary of what support has already been given;
- What parents need to do now;
- How they will be helped through the next stages;
- How quickly they need to accomplish everything that has been asked of them; plus it will list,
- Information on how to obtain legal advice and advocacy.
Legal Representation at the Pre-Proceedings Meeting
It is important that when the parent attends the Pre-Proceedings Meeting they bring with them their own legal representation. A failure to bring legal representation will mean that the meeting is likely to be re-arranged until the parent has appointed a legal professional.
You will qualify for Legal Aid for an Ashmans solicitor to go with you to a Pre-proceedings Meeting, so please call us for immediate advice.