Neglect inquiry over 15 stone King’s Lynn boy, 11, dropped

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The parents of an obese boy who were arrested over his weight have been told by police that they will face no further action.

The investigation into the couple, who are believed to be from the Lynn area, has been dropped 15 months after they were first arrested and a year after the case first made headlines around the world.

Norfolk Police confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that the 50-year-old man and 45-year-old woman had been released from their bail conditions.

A spokesman said the arrests had been made based on criteria for police action which were outlined in county safeguarding policies.

She said: “The child’s welfare is of paramount importance and our priority throughout this investigation has always been – and remains – the safety and protection of that child.”

However, she added: “Following detailed enquiries and CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) advice, it has been determined the criminal proceedings are now closed.

“Throughout the investigation the case has remained subject to ongoing multi-agency safeguarding review.

“The policy outlines the requirement for childhood obesity to be managed primarily by parents and carers with incremental support from Health and Children’s Social Care.”

The couple were first arrested in March last year on suspicion of child neglect and cruelty over their son, who was aged 11 at the time and weighed 15 stone.

The case later made headline news at home and abroad and sparked a debate over whether it was appropriate for the authorities to intervene in such a way.

The issue was also discussed when the BBC’s Question Time programme was broadcast from Lynn’s Corn Exchange, just days after the case came to light.

At the time, it was reported that the alarm had been raised by staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, who insisted they had acted in the best interests of the child.

It was also suggested that Norfolk County Council was preparing to take the child into care if the situation did not improve.

The authority said it could not comment on the specific case this week.

But Cathy Mouser, the council’s assistant director of children’s services, for social work, said yesterday: “Our priority is the health, well-being and safety of Norfolk’s children and we always do all we can to work with families to support their children’s needs.

“This includes working with partner agencies to ensure that a child is being appropriately cared for.”

Meanwhile, police have said officers would normally discuss cases of this type with partner agencies and would only get directly involved if several criteria were all met, as follows:

n The child is obese and their weight is continuing overall to increase disproportionately to age or is not reducing in line with a realistic and achievable health plan

n Paediatric examinations show the child’s weight is leading to other medical factors

n Parents or carers are aware of the risks and have the capacity and capability to engage in their child’s treatment and are frustrating, or unnecessarily failing to engage in, a co-ordinated plan to improve the child’s health

n The child is likely to be caused unnecessary suffering or injury.