Police probe 'baby with cigarette' photo

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The Independent Online

A photograph of a baby with a cigarette in his mouth was posted online, prompting a police investigation, it was revealed today.

A concerned internet user contacted the authorities after they saw a picture of a baby boy with an unlit cigarette in his mouth on the social networking site Facebook, an Essex Police spokesman said.

He said officers visited the child's home in Westcliff, near Southend in Essex, but found there were "no immediate concerns" for the baby's welfare.

"Police received the information in the early hours of Saturday about a picture of a baby with a cigarette in its mouth on Facebook," said the force spokesman.

"The baby was traced to an address in Westcliff and there were no immediate concerns for its welfare. The matter was referred to social services for any follow-up action."

Southend Borough Council said its officers would be visiting the child's family again today.

Sue Cook, head of specialist children's services, said: "Concerns were originally raised with the NSPCC on Saturday. The NSPCC referred the matter to the council's emergency out-of-hours service who in turn informed local police.

"Officers visited the family home on Saturday and, although no evidence of criminal wrongdoing emerged, words of advice were given to the parent. Essex Police then referred the matter back to the council and we will be visiting the family concerned today.

"The purpose of the visit is to carry out an assessment aimed at ensuring that any child within the household is being appropriately cared for."