Essex home alone parents referred to councils 164 times
Children have been referred to social services 164 times in the past year after being left alone at home in one county, new figures show.
The figures from children's charity NSPCC show the referrals were made to councils in Essex after members of the public contacted the helpline.
The charity says the bulk of these referrals were made during the summer months between July and September.
An NSPCC spokesman urged parents to be cautious during the summer holidays.
Across the year, reports ranged from children being left alone overnight to children left to feed themselves and use potentially dangerous kitchen equipment, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Southend Council received 10% of the referrals, with 17 children reported to the council's social services team.
'Needs of child'
Anne Jones, portfolio holder for children and learning with the council, said: "We take any report of a lone child very seriously and engage with the parents and other interested parties where appropriate to ensure the needs of the child are met."
Thurrock Council had similar figures to Southend, with 16 referrals.
Essex County Council, which is the largest authority in the area, received the majority with 131 referrals.
A spokesman for Essex County Council, said: "We take all concerns seriously and will assess and take appropriate action where necessary by working alongside families and partners to ensure children and young people receive care that meets their needs and that they are protected from harm."
Louise Exton, NSPCC helpline manager, said: "Parents are best placed to know what is right for their child so it's vital there is flexibility for them to decide, but we would urge them to think carefully and use their common sense when deciding if their child could cope."