Call to keep the ‘home alone’ laws flexible

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Wiganers believe the law should be flexible when it comes to leaving children home alone.

We asked for views online after it was revealed that 500 people were arrested on suspicion of neglect last year for leaving children on their own.

The youngest child involved was a baby just six weeks old, the BBC learned through a Freedom of Information request. Although the oldest child deemed at risk was 15, the majority of the arrests related to children under 10.

There are no laws about the age a child can be left alone, but police can take action if they deem a child to be at risk. NSPCC guidance suggests babies and toddlers are never left alone and under-16s should not be left alone overnight.

It adds: “Children under the age of 12 are rarely mature enough to cope in an emergency and should not be left at home alone for a long period of time.” But the charity said it received 2,500 calls from adults worried about children left alone, many in the summer holidays.

We canvassed views on the law through Facebook and here is a sample of the reactions: Faye Barrett: “I was 10 when I was allowed to walk from the school home for lunch while my mum was at work. Looking back I never felt neglected. I knew I wasn’t aloud to use the cooker but the microwave and kettle for noodles etc was fine.

“I think it depends on the maturity of the child. Although that was 15 years ago. I think times have changed and so have children.”

Andrew Shawforth: “Same here back in the ’70s: front door key round yer neck on string.” Kirsty Lea Wilkinson: “With everything it’s a case of how mature your child is, I would say high school age when they are learning independence and making their way from and to school alone.”

And Christine Aspey: “Children mature at different ages I think it depends on things they do in the home.”