I don't think it IS illegal. I agree that 8 seems very young to do this but part of the reason the confusion arises because there is no set legal age for leaving a child home alone, even if only for a very short time.
You remain however responsible for your child's well-being, and if a serious accident occurred during your absence you can expect to be investigated and possibly prosecuted.
I left mine at that age to pop to the paper shop (end of the street), but only if calm and well occupied (eg engrossed in a DVD). I left them for about 20 minutes at 9+, and an hour at 10+ (age of the youngest child in the house at the time).
whitechocolatebuttons Bollocks, there is no law regarding leaving children, don't lay a guilt trip on the op. OP my nearly 9yo is mature and sensible, I sometimes pop to the chemists over the road and leave him. I m starting to consider slightly longer trips, say 15/20 mins. You know best.
I leave my 9 and 7 year olds alone for up to 20-30 mins. Also starting to let 9 year old go places alone, to build up independence for secondary (he's Y5).
I think it's fine - as long as they have rules - don't answer door, know where the phone is for emergencies, don't touch the cooker, etc. They do have to start being more independent, but it also depends on the child - my 7yo is supremely sensible, and would trust her almost more than the 9yo.
my ds is eight and we've just reached the stage where he's allowed to play out alone (all the kids in the street do it and they're all similar age), so theoretically if he's old enough to play in the street then why not old enough to leave home for a couple of minutes?
I think the difference really is that if a child plays out at this age and hurts themselves they can come home, whereas if you go out and leave them they have to wait for you to come home, iyswim.
I do think though that it depends on the child at this age. I actually think my ds would be sensible enough to leave for ten minutes or so but still wouldn't feel comfortable doing it.
I am however very and at a five year old both being allowed to play out unsupervised and being left home alone.
However - to leave a 5 year old is insanity. I am an ex copper and can state categorically that you would be visited for leaving a child that young - with a possible referral if it was felt that this was not a one off.
You simply cannot argue about 'sensible' with a child that young.