PARENTS are being urged not to leave their children alone during the summer holidays unless they are certain they are mature enough to cope in an emergency.

Last August, the NSPCC made referrals involving 849 children after concerns were raised about them being left unsupervised.

Community fundraising manager for Essex Sarah Laffling said: “It can be difficult for parents and carers to decide whether their child is ready to be left on their own and we know that the summer holidays can be a tricky time as people face increasing childcare pressures.

“However, it is still very concerning that we are consistently seeing a spike in August of referrals to social services and the police due to worries about children being left unsupervised.

"No child should be left on their own if there is any risk they will come to harm.”

Advice from the charity is never to leave young children by themselves, youngsters under 12 are rarely able to cope in an emergency and children under 16 should not be left alone overnight.