More than 20 babies have been taken into care through court orders in Bromley, it can be revealed.

A freedom of information request has revealed that, since 2016, 25 babies have been subject to a section 31 care proceeding within a week of their birth.

A S31 is a court order allowing children to be taken from their parents and placed into the care of the local authority – Bromley Council.

Responsibility is split between the council and the baby’s family.

Orders such as these are only made if a court is satisfied the baby could come into harm or potential harm if the child remained solely with its parents.

So far this year, seven babies have been taken and placed in initial care at a foster home or at a hospital.

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Last year, eight babies were subject to the orders, and in 2016 10 S31s were carried out.

The council said that data for years before 2016 is not held in a “reportable format”.

A spokesman for Bromley Council said: “It is always very sad when a baby has to be taken into care, but these decisions are never taken lightly by the court.

“We will always do whatever we can to improve parenting skills but in some cases it is clear that we need to take action to protect the child from harm.

“Our priority is to keep children safe and decisions are always taken in the best interests of the child.”

Neighbouring Bexley has not carried out any S31 orders, and nearby Greenwich has carried out more than 60 in the last decade.

Bromley Council said that the orders can be made for “a number of reasons.”

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“Signs of neglect, poor parental mental well-being or drug and alcohol abuse are some of the reasons why children are taken into care”, the spokesman said.

“Ultimately it is up to the court to decide based on the evidence presented in each individual situation.

“Even if a court order is sought, it is not always the case that a baby is separated from their parent and taken into care.

“The court may decide that a baby can be placed with their parent in a parent  and baby placement until such time as the court makes long-term decisions about the baby’s future.”

Councils have a duty to support children in the borough who do not have parental guardians, acting as “corporate parents”.