Michael Gove’s decision to leave his 11 year old in a B&B for several hours has prompted significant discussion in the media, but the legal restrictions and recommendations around leaving children unsupervised are complicated, and it’s important for parents to know the all the facts.
The reason that the law does not specify a minimum age under which children should not be left at home alone is that children can differ significantly in maturity and understanding, and that a parent is best placed to know the capabilities of their own child and take responsibility for making this choice.
This is a sensitive subject, as has been reflected by the media interest in Michael Gove’s decision, but it is also an area where parents are advised to used significant amounts of discretion. Nevertheless, strong recommendations are also in place, and parents must remember that it is an offence to leave a child at home alone if doing so puts them at risk.
In order to best understand what constitutes risk, and enable parents to make the best possible decisions for their children, our Child Law Advice Service has prepared a detailed fact sheet outlining the legal parameters that parents need to adhere to, and also offering guidance around making good judgement calls that will uphold safeguarding standards.
You can read the full fact sheet here: