Is it illegal to leave a child in a car on their own? UK rules explained | The Sun

PARENTS will understand the pain of piling their kids in and out of the car while trying to efficiently run errands. 

But what price can you pay in the eyes of the law for saving a few minutes?

Is it illegal to leave a child in a car?

Disregarding any justifications many mums and dads may have for leaving their child in a car, a youngster's safety must come first.

That's why in the UK, it is illegal to leave a child alone if doing so places them at risk.

Parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised "in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health".

If it is deemed that kids have been neglected because there are no adults around, criminal proceedings can be brought against the parents.


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And if they are found guilty of neglect, they can face a fine or even a prison sentence.

It is important to weigh up the circumstances in the situation and any other factors that could put a kid in danger such as soaring temperatures or being parked in a dangerous spot.

What age can a child be left alone in a car?

The law does not state an explicit age when a child can be left alone in the car or when they would not be considered at risk, instead leaving the decision up to parents.

According to the Government website, adults should use their judgement to determine whether or not their little ones are mature enough to be left unsupervised.

However, babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone at any point.

What do the experts say?

The NSPCC advises that children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time.

Chris Cloke, of the NSPCC, said: "When left alone in a vehicle, young children can very quickly start to get anxious and distressed.

"Even if they're sleeping peacefully when you leave they could well wake up and get very upset when you're not there to look after them.

"They would not be able to protect themselves in an emergency and may even try to leave the vehicle to find you.

"As children become older parents need to exercise their own judgement. if they can see the car the whole time it may be sensible depending on your child's maturity.

"Every child is different and every parent knows their child's readiness to be left in this scenario."

It is recommended that parents prepare their youngsters for emergencies by talking through scenarios that could potentially happen without an adult present.

Equipping your kids with knowledge and a strategy for extreme scenarios is the best course of action for concerned parents.

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For most children, they begin to be left home alone from around the age of 11, when they move up to secondary school.

Often it is a good idea to leave your child for small periods of time and build up to longer as they age.

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