Police can not start an investigation into a woman who left her newborn baby locked in the car to go shopping, because nobody has lodged a complaint.
A photo of the infant, which was wrapped in a blanket in a car seat with a note saying to call if there are any issues, was taken outside a Porirua supermarket on Saturday morning.
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After being posted on Facebook, it sparked outrage online.
The mother’s cellphone number was left on the note.
But Senior Sergeant Justin Rakena from Porirua Police said he could do nothing about it until someone complained.
“We weren’t called, and we’ve had no complaints. If they do call us, we’ll be acting on it,” he said.
“We were never called at the time, so we’ve got nothing to go on. We’d look at it like we look at anything.”
He said children being left in the car alone happened frequently in the area.
“I don’t know what the stats are, but anecdotally you might have a kid left in a car once a fortnight, something like that,” he said.
“This is quite common, and quite often there’s an innocent explanation. At a guess I’d say 95% of these things can be explained away.”
He said it is not acceptable to leave a person under 14 unaccompanied, but more often than not it just warranted a warning.
The photo was posted on radio personality Polly Gillespie's Facebook page last night and triggered many heated responses.
There were more than 1100 comments on the post, with many outraged at the incident, but many felt sympathy for the mother involved.
It is illegal for a parent or guardian to leave a child under the age of 14 alone for an unreasonable time or in unreasonable conditions. Doing so could result in a fine of up to $2000.
- The Dominion Post
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