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Thousands of youngsters cautioned for drink crimes

The number of children committing drink-related crime has rocketed by more than a quarter in four years, figures show.

Nearly 40,000 children have been fined, cautioned or taken to court for abusing alcohol between 2003 and 2007, according to official statistics.

More than 6,000 children aged ten to 15 were handed police cautions or taken to court for abusing alcohol in that period.

This includes 124 children aged between ten and 12.

The number of drunken under-18s being caught by police has increased by 28.4 per cent from 6,764 in 2003 to 8,686 in 2007.

The number of 13 to 15-year-olds being cautioned has risen 17.4 per cent and the proportion of children that age being taken to court has leapt by a fifth.

Home Office figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats show that a total of 39,714 children aged 17 and under were fined, cautioned or taken to court for drinkfuelled offences between 2003 and 2007 in England and Wales.

The statistics have shocked MPs and alcohol campaigners, who have called for the Government to crack down on supermarkets selling cheap booze and bulk-buy deals at ‘pocket-money prices’.

LibDem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: ‘These figures paint a shocking picture of how many children are being dragged into the criminal justice system through alcohol abuse.

‘The problem appears to be growing worse by leaps and bounds. Ministers talk a lot about the alcohol crisis in this country but have failed to tackle it.

‘Unless we change our drinking culture, we will condemn many children and adolescents to serious long-term alcohol-related illnesses or a life of crime.

‘We must put an end to alcohol being sold at pocket-money prices and start educating our children about the dangers of drink or these figures will continue to get worse.’

Offences include being drunk and disorderly, drink driving and selling alcohol to other children.

An Alcohol Concern spokesman said: ‘The figures are staggering.

‘This is a reflection of how easily and cheaply available alcohol has become for young people.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are determined to reduce underage drinking through effective education and tough enforcement.’

source: Mail Online

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