Government response to child neglect petition

By Tony Bennett

Here's the official government response to the petition I launched on 11 February 2008 (closed 10 Februay 2009) calling for it to be made a criminal offence to leave children under 12 home alone, without reasonable excuse:

Friday 27 March 2009

No-to-neglect - epetition response

We received a petition asking:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to bring in a new law to make it a criminal offence to leave children aged under 12 on their own.”

Details of Petition:

“More and more children aged under 12 are being left on their own at home by their parents without proper supervision. The law on this point is totally unclear and appears to be covered only by the 1933 Children and Young Persons Act. The topic of young children being left on their own has been in the news in the past year and it is submitted that now is a good time to review existing laws. The dangers to young children of being left on their own are numerous and potentially very serious. The law should deter people with children under 12 from even thinking about leaving them on their own.”

· Read the petition
· Petitions homepage

Read the Government’s response

Government does not bring up children - parents do, and it is parents who are best placed to decide when their child or children may be left alone. Parents should consider not just the age of their children but wider issues of development, resilience and maturity.

There is no statute that sets out a minimum age below which a child may be left alone. If anyone has concerns about the welfare of a child who is left alone, irrespective of their age, they should follow the standard procedures set out in Working Together to Safeguarding Children for making a referral to either the Local Authority children’s social care services or the police. These statutory agencies will then follow their normal processes for assessing whether the child is a child in need or at risk of suffering harm and deciding what action should be taken to safeguard the child’s welfare.
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