Mother who left four-year old home alone to be questioned

The mother of a four-year-old girl left home alone was questioned by police under caution today after she returned to Britain.

Police found the girl after her 16-year-old brother was arrested along with another boy of 16 on suspicion of driving offences.



The mother is understood to have gone abroad on holiday to an undisclosed location, leaving the little girl's brother in charge of her care in Crawley, West Sussex. It is not known how long the girl had been left on her own.



The discovery of the girl was made after the two teenagers were stopped by police in the Maidenbower area at around 1am on Tuesday.



The driver was arrested on suspicion of taking a car without the owner's consent, Sussex Police said.



The second boy was held on suspicion of being carried in a stolen vehicle and child neglect. Both have been freed on police bail until September 27.



Today a police spokesman said the girl's mother had returned last night and has been spoken to under caution.



Sources said she was not arrested because it is not an offence to leave a young child in the care of a 16-year-old unless it places them at risk.



The spokesman said: "The mother of the four-year-old girl voluntarily attended Crawley police station today where she was spoken to, under caution, by officers from Sussex Police child protection team.



"At this stage the investigation is ongoing in conjunction with Social Services."



A source said earlier that the mother was expected to receive advice.



A county council spokesman said that they had no comment to make because inquiries were continuing.



Chris Cloke, head of child protection awareness at the NSPCC, said more than 9,000 calls were received by them last year about child neglect, many relating to children left home alone.



He said: "Children under 16 shouldn't be left alone overnight and we would say that children shouldn't be left in the care of someone who is under 16.



"In all situations, parents need to discuss with their children how they feel about being left home alone, and parents who do so should minimise any risk to them regardless of how long they are away.



"If the child does feel happy being left alone, then we would ask parents to make arrangements for someone to keep a watchful eye on them.



"Is there a relative they could stay with or a neighbour to check on them? At the absolute basis of this is, is the child happy?"

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her in Latakia
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report