Sussex Police want to question a woman who went abroad on holiday leaving her four-year-old daughter home in the care of her 16-year-old brother, who left the child alone to go joyriding.
The brother and a friend were arrested by police on suspicion of driving offences and it was then that police learned of the little girl at home alone.
The brother, who was stopped by police in Maidenbower, Sussex, at 1am on Tuesday (30 August), was held on suspicion of being carried in a stolen vehicle and child neglect.
He has been released on bail until 27 September.
The mother returned from her holiday on Wednesday night (31 August) and will be spoken to under caution by police and social services officers.
Under UK law, there is no specific age below which a child cannot be left home alone. However, it is an offence to leave your child at home alone if by doing so you are placing them at risk. Also, the NSPCC advise that babies, toddler and young children should never be left alone.
There is also no law stating what age a babysitter should be, although most authorities would recommend someone aged 16 or older. Parents who leave their children in the care of an older child, aged under 16, will still be held responsible for their child’s safety.
The police are not expected to arrest the mother in this case since she left her daughter in the care of a 16-year-old, unless it is found that she put her youngest at risk.
“It is more likely that she will be given advice,” one source said.
Sussex Police said: “As a result of inquiries following the arrest of one of the boys, West Sussex Social Services have been informed by police that a four-year-old girl, known to one of the boys, was home alone at an address nearby. This matter is now being dealt with by West Sussex County Council.”
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