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Leaving a child alone

There is no law which states the minimum age that a child can be left alone – but it is an offence to leave a child alone when doing so puts the child at risk.

The NSPCC recommend that most children under 13 should not be left for more than a short period and that no child under 16 should be left overnight.

They suggest that parents consider the following before deciding to leave a child alone:

  • the age of the child
  • the child's level of maturity and understanding
  • the place where the child will be left
  • how long the child will be left alone, and how often
  • whether or not there are any other children in the household.

Further advice on good practices when leaving children alone can be found on the RoSPA or NSPCC websites.

Are you worried about the safety or welfare of a child?

If you think a child or young person may be in immediate danger, call 999. Otherwise contact Children's Social Care on 020 8314 6000. For the Children's Social Care Duty Team call 020 8314 6660. Out of hours call 020 8314 6000.