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  1. ITV Report

Increase in reports of drug and alcohol use around children

NSPCC says exposure to drug use in adults can damage children Photo: PA

The NSPCC’s helpline has seen a rise in the number of people reporting drug and alcohol use around children over the last three years.

1,176 people from the North West contacted the charity last year to describe potential substance misuse amongst adults when children and young people were in their care or nearby.

The number is up by 23 per cent since 2013 /14, when 951 people got in touch.

Across the UK, there were more than 25,000 helpline contacts focused on the issue over the past three years.

The charity says it has made more than 3,040 referrals to external agencies, including the police and children’s services, about substance abuse around children in the past three years.

The figures have been released as the UK marks the start of Children of Alcoholics Week, which aims to raise awareness of the problems and suffering associated with parental alcohol problems.

One member of the public got in touch with the NSPCC helpline to report concerns of drug taking in a home also occupied by children. The caller said:

"They have a party going on in the house every weekend; I see lots of people entering and leaving the property and there is a strong smell of drugs lingering in the air when this happens. The children are inside the home when the parties are taking place and I’m becoming worried for their welfare."

Another caller reported allegations related to alcohol abuse:

" The father of the child lost his partner recently and has since started drinking heavily. He has stopped going to work and isn’t doing much with himself apart from drinking away. I’ve noticed the children aren’t going to school regularly anymore or being fed properly."

“Drug and alcohol abuse can have hugely damaging effects around children and it’s clearly troubling to see a rise over time in reports of this problem to our helpline.

“Substance misuse all too often leads to the neglect or abuse of a child and it’s absolutely crucial that we do all we can to stop that.

"The NSPCC provides services directly to families suffering from these problems to help them overcome them and provide their children with a safe and secure upbringing.

“But everyone has a duty to look out for potential signs of distress."

– Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive

The NSPCC’s Helpline is available on 0808 800 5000 or via help@nspcc.org.uk