Neighbours hinder 'home alone' rescue

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The Independent Online
A MOB attempted to stop social workers when they went to rescue three more toddlers found alone without food behind the bolted steel door of a flat, police said yesterday.

Neighbours who gathered on the estate near Wolverhampton were trying to make police and social workers wait for the children's father to arrive home. He was questioned by police yesterday. The latest incident takes to 12 the number of 'home alone' children found since Christmas Eve.

Police went to the house in the Heathtown district of Wolverhampton at 7pm after an anonymous tip-off. They had to force a boarded-up back window to get in. Inside a dirty flat, they found boys aged five and four, and a two-year-old girl, apparently without food or drink. The television was on. Police estimated they had been left at least three hours.

Superintendent John Colston said: 'The police officers used a crowbar to try to break through the front door but were unsuccessful . . . a crowd gathered. Some of the neighbours were getting together to try and stop us taking the children to safety. It seems they had a sense of misplaced loyalty to the father.'

In the other cases of children being left over Christmas, a boy of two was found shut in a filthy Brighton bedroom dressed in only a T-shirt; carol singers discovered three young children alone in a house in Leeds, and, in the same city, a girl of nine was left while her father went drinking. Four children, the oldest aged 12, were found unsupervised at a house in Sheffield.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children says it now hears of about 60 cases a month. It believes many more go unreported.