CHILDREN as young as 12 are being bought alcohol and sent out on to the streets by their own parents.

An East Lancashire-wide Operation Staysafe saw more than 200 children stopped and 28 of those were deemed so ‘vulnerable’ that they were taken 'somewhere safe'.

Amongst them were a teenage boy and his friends who had been bought alcohol by his mum.

Alcohol misuse experts say children as young as 10 are being found drunk by police or admitted to hospitals, with their mums and dads having bought them booze in most cases.

Police have also warned parents to keep a closer eye on their children after many were found to be lying about where they were staying and meeting up with older groups of men.

During the swoops, patrols of police, council officers, children’s services and the Safer Travel Unit seized 40 litres of lager, wine and spirits from 5pm until midnight on Friday.

Lee Girvan, senior young people substance misuse co-ordinator for the Lancashire Drug and Alcohol Action Team, said children as young as 10 were being referred to them for help.

He said: "Alcohol misuse in East Lancashire is a particular problem. One of the issues is breaking the idea that drinking to excess is socially acceptable.

“Chief medical officer advice is that your first use should be no sooner than 15 years old and then only in a safe family environment.

“We are seeing children as young as 10 being referred to us. They are being picked up by the police or referred to us by the hospitals. In most of the cases they have not bought the alcohol for themselves but it has been bought by a parent.

“Aside from health issues there is the very real danger that these people are putting themselves in by drinking outdoors and making themselves vulnerable.

“It is a major issue with around 400 young people in Lancashire currently on our programmes focusing on alcohol misuse.”

In the Bank Top area of Blackburn, nine youngsters aged 12-15 years old were removed from the streets and taken to a 'safe place' for the parent or guardian to cllect them.

Two 14-year-old girls were found boozing with a group of four teenage boys on the canal towpath, Cherry Tree, after telling their parents in Preston they were staying at a friend’s house and getting the train to Blackburn. The adults were contacted and told to go and collect them.

Another 12-year-old boy was found drinking alcohol with two other children, aged 12 and 13, on Wensley Road, Blackburn.

In Burnley and Padiham, nine children aged between 12 and 16 were taken off the streets, including two 12-year-olds found with a group of older men on Ashley Street, Burnley. The men were warned about their behaviour.

Officers also issued three fixed penalty notices for public order offences and 10 youth referrals for anti-social behaviour.

All families involved were offered support by various agencies.

Sergeant Kevin Jones from Bank Top Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “It is concerning that we are finding groups of young children on the streets drinking alcohol, particularly when they are lying to their parents about where they are going.

“I urge parents to make sure they are happy that their children are being truthful when they say they are staying at a friends’ house."

Coun Yusuf Jan-Virmani, Blackburn with Darwen Council's executive member for neighbourhoods and customer services, said: “This action is also designed to make a real and visible difference to the area. We're determined to continue to crack down on this to help people feel safer whilst addressing the issue of underage drinking."