Such visits, are entirely without legal basis. The state has a limited right of access where they have grounds to believe a vulnerable person (such as a child) is in immediate danger of serious or significant harm. They do not need a warrant under such circumstances. Although they can also apply for a warrant if they can prove to the courts that such a situation exists in the long term. Normally however, that would not be obtained by the police but the local child protection team.
The fact that someone is home educating and that the child has not been seen by an official (such as an EWO or EHE rep) for 18 months is not legal grounds for believing a child is at risk. Home education is a free parental choice and does not constitute grounds for concern of itself. There is (as yet) no compulsory register of home educators and there is no legally mandated monitoring regime.
They need a reason specific to that child. For example, a report from a third party that a child is at risk or if a police officer hears a child screaming such that it leads him or her to such a view could both be grounds. But routine checks of the kind proposed by Durham Police have no basis in law.
It has been suggested that the following responses to such demands are within the law.
If an officer came to your door and demanded entry, and even threatened you in some way with dire consequences if you refused you could ask the following questions
You could start with 'Are you arresting me?’
If however the officer says that 'We do have reason because our LA policy defines a child not seen by the state for 18 months as being at risk of harm' Your reply could be:
A local policy in respect of education, has no force in criminal law. Your powers only allow you entry, if my child is currently in distress and at risk of harm. A safe and well check has no legal basis. It is informal.
This last part is the most likely direction such a conversation will lead.
Never physically resist arrest, even if you strongly believe the officer to be wrong. Explain calmly that the officer is overstepping their powers and then see a criminal law solicitor at your earliest opportunity.
It is possible that if they rigorously carry out these “duties”, Durham police force may well be funding a number of home educators foreign educational visits next year.