Child left in hot car

RICHARD BALLS Parents were last night warned of the dangers of leaving children alone after disturbing cases of child neglect during the summer heatwave emerged.

RICHARD BALLS

Parents were last night warned of the dangers of leaving children alone after disturbing cases of child neglect during the summer heatwave emerged.

In one case, a seven-year-old boy was locked inside a car as temperatures soared in Norwich and police had to force their way in to free the distressed youngster.

And in a separate incident, officers found a three-year-old boy wandering around the city's Chapelfield Gardens in the searing heat and when they tracked down his mother, she was too drunk to look after him.

The 34-year-old woman was arrested and charged with being drunk in charge of a child under the age of seven - and reported to the force's child protection unit and to the children's services department at County Hall.

The parents of the boy left alone in the car were let off with strong words of advice.

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The incident was reported to child protection and council officials, though a decision has yet to be taken on whether further action will be taken.

Police, social services and the NSPCC all condemned the incidents during last Saturday's civic celebrations.

Supt Jim Smerdon said: "These really are two appalling examples of children being left to suffer in the heat due to neglect, and it is fortunate they did not come to harm."

Mandy Lyons, Norfolk County Council's Children's Services safeguarding service manager, said: "It is obviously vital that parents use common sense when looking after their children and put their children's interests before their own."

Isabel Kelly, for the NSPCC, said: "It is never safe to leave a child alone in a public place. The risk is small, but it would only take a minute for him or her to be abducted.

"He or she could also wander into a road or drown in a pond. In most situations, children under about eight years old shouldn't be out alone, especially in busy towns.

"We would also advise that children are not left alone in the car or outside a shop - even for a few minutes. Cases in which children, including babies, have been left alone in parked cars for quite long spells are concerning as this presents many dangers, particularly with the current high temperatures.

"Tragedies can happen when young children are left alone in a car, and it can also be very distressing for them to be alone."