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The number of calls made to a national charity, raising concerns of substance or alcohol abuse near children has risen by nearly a quarter in three years.

The number of referrals made to the Police and children’s services in the North West has risen to 1096 in 2016 from 1108 in the year before

These referrals are made for the most serious of cases.

Over the last three years the focus of more than 3,329 calls to the NSPCC helpline has been children’s exposure to alcohol, drugs and other substances in the North West.

Manchester-based Helpline Team Manager Mike Canning says one example could be a call from a concerned grandparent.

He says, “Without the intervention of the public, a lot of those 20,000 referrals couldn’t have been made. We are reliant on people contacting us and informing us that they’ve got a concern.

“What we’ll do is give advice and support and when appropriate, pass that information onto the children’s services and Police.”

The charity released a transcipt example of a typical call. 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. The mother has a drinking problem and she regularly leaves the children at home on their own too. I don’t want to approach her myself as it may create tension between us. What should I do?”

NSPCC Chief Executive, Peter Wanless, said, “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 and the NSPCC’s helpline is there to provide help and support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

The charity say rises of this nature are always a concern, but commend those who have the confidence in reporting such incidents.

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