Leaving children alone at home

In England there is no legally set age when it is OK to leave your child at home alone but it is an offence to do so if it places them at risk. It depends on whether your child is mature enough to cope in an emergency and if they are happy about being left. Children mature at different ages and every child is an individual.

Advice from the NSPCC says

  • Never leave a baby or young child home alone, not even for a few minutes. The home is where most accidents happen. Children under five are the most injured group.
  • Children under 12 should only be left for a short time. Make sure you put away any dangerous objects such as medicines or matches.
  • Make sure older children are happy if you leave them and know how to contact you and emergency services.
  • If your child is under the age of 16 they should not be left alone overnight.
  • Teach your child about what to do if there is a problem.
  • Keep your mobile phone with you and make sure your child knows your number. Give them other numbers to contact as well, such as friends or family.

More help and guidance can be found on the NSPCC website.

It is against the law to leave a child unsupervised “in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health”.

Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (England and Wales),Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act and Children and Young Persons Act (Northern Ireland) 1968.