Practice Direction (Ward: Witness at Trial) (No 2): FD 18 Jul 1988

‘The registrar’s direction of 11 November 1987, Practice Direction (Ward: Witness at Trial) [1987] 1 W.L.R. 1739, set out the procedure to be followed to obtain leave for the police to interview a child who is a ward of court. It provided that all applications for leave should be made to a judge on summons on notice to all parties.
That procedure is hereby modified to the extent that where a party may become the subject of a criminal investigation and it is considered necessary for the ward to be able to be interviewed without that party knowing that the police are making inquiries, the application for leave may be made ex parte to a judge without notice to that party. Notice should, however, where practicable be given to the guardian ad litem.
There will be other occasions where the police need to deal with complaints, or alleged offences, concerning wards where it is appropriate, if not essential, for action to be taken straight away without the prior leave of the wardship court. Typical examples may be: (a) serious offences against the ward such as rape, where the medical examination and the collection of forensic evidence ought to be carried out promptly, (b) where the ward is suspected by the police of having committed a criminal act and the police wish to interview him in respect of that matter, (c) where the police wish to interview the ward as a potential witness. This list is not exhaustive. There will inevitably be other instances where immediate action is appropriate.
The President and judges of the Family Division are of the opinion that, where any such instances are encountered, the police should notify the parent or foster parent with whom the ward is living or other ‘appropriate adult’ within the Home Office Code of Practice for the Detention, Treatment and Questioning of Persons by Police Officers, so that that adult has the opportunity of being present when the police interview the child. Additionally, if practicable the guardian ad litem (if one has been appointed) should be notified and invited to attend the police interview or to nominate a third party to attend on his behalf. A record of the interview or a copy of any statement made by the ward should be supplied to the guardian ad litem. Where the ward has been interviewed without the guardian’s knowledge he should be informed at the earliest opportunity and (if it be the case) that the police wish to conduct further interviews. The wardship court should be appraised of the situation at the earliest possible opportunity thereafter by the guardian ad litem, the parent, foster-parent (through the local authority) or other responsible adult.’


Sir Stephen Brown P


[1988] 1 WLR 989


England and Wales


UpdatedPractice Direction (Ward: Witness at Trial) EW 11-Nov-1987
‘Where the police desire to interview a child who is already a ward of court application must be made for leave for the police to do so . . If it is desired to conduct any interview beyond what is permitted by the order further application should be . .

Cited by:

CitedRe A Ward of Court FD 4-May-2017
Ward has no extra privilege from Police Interview
The court considered the need to apply to court in respect of the care of a ward of the court when the Security services needed to investigate possible terrorist involvement of her and of her contacts. Application was made for a declaration as to . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Children, Police

Updated: 06 May 2022; Ref: scu.588739