Police have today, Friday, June 6, defended their decision to arrest the parents of a 11-year-old boy amid concerns over the child’s obesity.
The 49-year-old man and 44-year-old woman, who have not been identified but who are said to be from the Lynn area, are currently on bail having been detained on suspicion of child neglect and cruelty in March.
A Norfolk Police spokesman said: “When dealing with sensitive issues such as obesity and neglect of children, officers from the force’s Child Abuse Investigation Unit work closely with partners, significantly with both health care and social services, to ensure any response to address them are proportionate and necessary.
“Any action taken by any agency will be subject to a joint strategy between all partner agencies and will always be taken with the welfare of the child and their protection from harm as paramount.
“While it is inappropriate to comment on this case specifically, it is important to stress that intervention at this level is very rare and will only occur where other attempts to protect the child have been unsuccessful.”
Reports in today’s Sun newspaper claim that the boy, who weighs 15 stone, has a body mass index (BMI) which is almost twice the healthy level.
The paper claimed that police were called in by staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, whose director of nursing, Catherine Morgan, said: “There are very clear guidelines in place to safeguard the interests of children and vulnerable adults which the hospital adheres to.
“This includes sharing information with our partner agencies as and when appropriate in the best interests of the individual, who will then take their own decision on any follow-up action they feel may be necessary.”
Norfolk County Council said it could not comment on the individual case, but said that cases of child obesity in West Norfolk are above both the county and national averages.
The authority says that almost 21 per cent of year six school children in the borough are classed as obese, compared to 18.6 per cent in Norfolk and 18.9 per cent in England.
A spokesman said: “Our priority will always be the health, well-being and safety of Norfolk’s children and we will always do all we can to support families to meet their children’s needs.”