Whether it is nipping to the shop, popping petrol in the car, or running a quick errand, many parents will have wondered if their child will be alright in the car alone.

Often with a child asleep in the back it’s easier to leave them in peace while you go to pay for fuel or grab some groceries.

But it’s a topic of much debate among modern parents around both its legality and whether it’s sensible or safe to do so.

South Wales Argus:

Is it illegal to leave my child alone in the car?

The UK Government’s official website does not state any specific law against leaving your child unattended in the car, and there is no legal age at which you can leave your child alone.

However, it is an offence to leave your child alone if it places them at risk and you could be prosecuted.

That phrase “at risk” is very open to interpretation and parents have been prosecuted when they and police have had different views of what it means.

The Government advises parents to make a judgement on the risk based on the situation and their own child’s maturity.

It also highlights advice from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), which says babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone and children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time.

What the NSPCC says about leaving a child alone in the car

A spokesperson for the NSPCC previously told Newsquest that leaving young children alone does carry risks.

They advised: “When left alone in a vehicle, young children can very quickly start to get anxious and distressed.

“Even if they’re sleeping peacefully when you leave, they could well wake up and get very upset when you’re not there to look after them.

"They would not be able to protect themselves in an emergency and may even try to leave the vehicle to find you.

“As children become older, parents need to exercise their own judgement about whether they can be briefly left in a car.

"If they can see the vehicle the whole time it may be okay, depending on your child’s maturity.

"However, every child is different, and every parent needs to make their own decision on whether their child is ready to be left in this scenario.”