CHILDREN as young as 12 have been found in public areas suffering from the effects of alcohol, say police.

Underage drinkers now face home visits by police in a new intervention scheme being pioneered in Shrewsbury.

Police say they are becoming increasingly concerned with the growing number of youngsters found with cans or bottles of alcohol.

In the new scheme being introduced in Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Ludlow, officers will sit down with offenders and their parents in a bid to break the drinking habit and reduce the risk of anti-social behaviour.

PC Smither, officer in charge of youth inclusion work in Shropshire, said: “We talk frankly about the physical effects of alcohol as well as the law and possible outcomes if they continue to possess or consume alcohol while under age.

“We have delivered a handful of presentations to date and so far we have had a very positive response.

“It's surprising to see how many parents have no idea they are breaking the law by supplying their own kids with alcohol.

“Also, seeing the effects of alcohol on young people, really has an impact on parents who previously thought a couple of beers won’t do them any

He added: "Anti-social behaviour carried out by young people and alcohol clearly go hand in hand.

“So by taking the booze out of the picture, ASB figures will drop and our young people safeguarded.

“We hope by intervening at the earliest opportunity, the chance of repeat offending will be reduced and young people will be better protected.”

PC Smither said 28 underage youngsters were stopped in possession of alcohol in Shropshire in July, and alcohol seizures were up on last year, though possibly because the issue has been targeted by police.

He urged people to make use of the new anti-social behaviour hotline on 0345 678 9020 if they had any trouble from underage drinkers.