Sunday, 13 April 2008

UK law on minimum age for leaving children alone

Home Alone UK.

I notice that a few people have arrived at this blog from using Google search engine to find the minimum age at which children can be left alone, legally, in the UK.

Here is what the NSPCC says on the subject:

NSPCC Help and Advice Pages

"Leaving children at home alone

What the law says

The law does not set a minimum age at which children can be left alone. However, it is an offence to leave a child alone when doing so puts him or her at risk.

How do you decide if you can safely leave a child alone?

There are many important things to consider before you decide to leave a child alone. These include:

  • the age of the child
  • the child's level of maturity and understanding
  • the place where child will be left
  • how long the child will be left alone, and how often
  • whether or not there are any other children alone with the child."
And from Professor Carolyn Hamilton, Times Online:

Times Online

"Scenario 1: You have three children under 5. You go shopping at the supermarket for 20 minutes, leaving them asleep in their car seats with the doors unlocked to avoid their movements triggering the car alarm.

This scenario is not advisable. It is an offence under section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 to neglect or abandon a child under the age of 16 for whom a parent or carer has responsibility, but the law gives no detail of what amounts to neglect or abandonment. Prosecution and/or conviction depend largely on the circumstances. The punishment can range from a fine to ten years’ imprisonment.

The court is to likely to take into account the age and maturity of the child, for how long he or she was left alone and the arrangements to ensure his or her safety. Here, the children might get out of the car and wander on to the road – or anybody could remove a child from the car."

"Scenario 4:You go out for dinner in a hotel complex on holiday abroad, leaving a child aged 3 and twins aged 18 months in a locked room. You return to check on them every half hour.

If the parents have taken all the risks into account and decided that it is safe to leave the children, this would probably be reasonable. If the children were awake or a bit older and able to wander around, or potentially even to open the door to an intruder, perhaps not. But asleep, with the door locked and people constantly checking up on them, it is likely to be reasonable.

You should be checking on them very regularly. I don’t think it’s any less safe in Continental Europe than it is here. Leaving children alone in this manner is not desirable, but parents have to balance the demands of life and will probably have to consider such issues regularly.

A parent needs to ensure that children are safe if they are left alone. Leaving them for a short while, asleep, in a locked room with regular checks is acceptable. Leaving them for two hours, or with unlocked doors, is not."

So, in effect, the answer is that there is no minimum age set by UK law for when children can be left alone. However, if the children should come to significant harm as a result, those responsible are likely to be prosecuted.

PJ: the interrogations have reinforced the convictions of the inspectors. (Updated)

"Entre pertes de mémoire et changements de témoignages

b9250c297710299dfb02ba100d688065.jpgDepuis leur arrivée sur le sol britannique, Paulo Rebelo à gardé exactement la même attitude vis-à-vis des journalistes qu’il avait au Portugal : dés que le sujet de conversation touche à l’affaire McCann c’est le silence. A la sortie des installations de la police britannique, après les interrogatoires, le silence de l’inspecteur, même pour les journalistes portugais, n’est trahi que par un léger sourire et son air fatigué. Ceux qui connaissent l’inspecteur d’autres dossiers savent que ceci ne peux que signifier une chose : ca à l’air d’avancer comme il le souhaite.

Between loss of memory and changing witness statements.

Since their arrival on British soil, Paulo Rebelo has maintained exactly the same attitude towards journalists, which he had in Portugal: as soon as the subject touches on the McCann case, there is silence. On leaving the British police building, after the interrogations, the inspector's silence, even for the Portuguese journalists, was only betrayed by a slight smile and by his air of exhaustion. Those who know the inspector from other cases, know that this can only signify one thing: that things as progressing as he would wish.

"Et on fini par comprendre le sourire de l’inspecteur. Selon plusieurs officiers britanniques de la police du Leicestershire, la thèse d’un enlèvement, ne tiens pas la route et la cohésion du groupe connu comme les Tapas 9 (incluant Kate et Gerry McCann) commence à s’effriter."

And we come to understand the inspector's smile. According to several British officers of the Leicestershire police, the abduction theory does not last the distance and the cohesion of the group, known as the Tapas 9 (including Kate and Gerry McCann) begins to crumble.

"S’il y avait un pacte de silence il à été rompu et je suis certain que les collègues portugais vont y arriver", affirmait un responsable de la police britannique à Enderby, où un certain "ras-le-bol" commence à se faire remarquer vis-à-vis des pressions de que la police du Leicestershire à été la cible."

"If there was a pact of silence, it has been broken and I am certain that the Portuguese colleagues will get there," stated a spokesperson for the British British police at enderby, where a certain, "enough is enough," has been noticed faced with the pressure, of which the Leicestershire police has been the target.

"Selon la même source, le témoignage de Jane Tanner et Russell O’Brien, mettant directement en cause Kate et Gerry McCann, à permis aux enquêteurs de comprendre pourquoi la maman de Madeleine avait refusé de répondre à un grand nombre de questions. Au mois de septembre, le jour ou elle à été constitué arguida, avant le départ du couple au Royaume-Uni, Kate avait refusé de coopérer avec la Police Judiciaire, refusant notamment d’expliquer pourquoi elle avait changé de vêtements ou pourquoi Madeleine, depuis leur arrivée à l’Océan Club, pleurait souvent quand elle restais avec sa maman, jamais avec Gerry."

According to the same source, the witness statements of Jane Tanner and Russell O'Brien, directly implicating Kate and Gerry, have allowed the investigators to understand why Madeleine's mother had refused to respond to a large number of questions. In September, on the day she was constituted arguida, before they left for the UK, Kate had refused to co-operate with the PJ, notably refusing to explain why she had changed her clothes or why Madeleine, since their arrival at the Ocean Club, often cried when she was with her mother, never with Gerry.

Prochainement :

  • En Espagne, nous avons rencontré l’équipage d’un bateau qui étais sur la cote la nuit de la disparition.
  • Des experts européens en communication, marketing et analyse politique ont décortiqué la campagne McCann.
Coming next:

  • In Spain we have met the crew of a boat which was on the coats on the night of the disappearacne.
  • European experts in communication, marketing and political analysis have analysed the McCann campaign.

Observer 13/04/08: Madeleine 'suspect' in massive libel claim

Observer Sunday 13th April

"British media face record payout as family of Robert Murat demand apology and damages."

The best news I have read in a long time is that Robert Murat has engaged a firm of solicitors to take legal action on his behalf against a list of UK newspapers and one TV channel. Robert Murat's life has been blighted since the award-winning Mirror group journalist, Lori Campbell, decided that Mr Murat, far from being just someone trying to help, was an object of suspicion.

"Murat, 34, who lived close to the Praia da Luz apartment in Portugal where Madeleine went missing, was made an arguido, or formal suspect, after a British tabloid reporter voiced her concerns to Portuguese police shortly after the child disappeared. The Sunday Mirror journalist claimed that Murat's behaviour was reminiscent of Soham murderer Ian Huntley."

Sunday Mirror, day 18, "WHY I SHOPPED MADDY SUSPECT"

"He added with pride: "I helped the McCanns communicate what had happened the night before to the police. They were frantic with worry and frustrated that they were not being understood.

"I have also been translating witness statements for the last few days from Mark Warner workers and holidaymakers."

Much of that, we now suspect, was not true. But at the time, he made it sound like the police knew him very well and he was trusted enough to assist them."

"Like so much else about him, it just didn't add up. Later, as we drove past I deliberately glanced at him and waved goodbye.

He was holding court as usual at the centre of a dozen film crews. He stood, hands on hips, just yards from the police tape which cordoned off the crime scene. But as he caught my eye, he appeared to freeze for just a moment and his expression changed to one of a man exposed."

The Observer again:

"On 14 May 2007, Murat was questioned by Portuguese police and became the first person to be declared an official suspect. On the same day Campbell told Sky News: 'It was just very reminiscent of the Soham murders, that was my first thought. He was hanging around, asking us questions and maybe trying to find out what we knew."

So, I send my very best regards to Robert Murat and his mother, Jenny. Robert's business has gone straight down the pan since those early days of the investigation, and in my opinion, he deserves to get as much as his specialist legal team can extract from those UK news media who probably made quite a substantial sum while publishing their totally unsubstantiated stories.

Go get'em Robert! And don't spare that award-winning journalist, who acted on her, "gut instinct," when she thought she saw a comparison to the Soham murders!

(I have made at least a dozen attempts to download an interesting video from YouTube this morning, but my NThell cable is on the blink...yet again! One of these days I really will get my act together and swap to a more reliable ISP! I shall post the video when the cable is stable enough to allow the download!)