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Surge in the number of calls about substance abuse around children

File picture of alcoholic drinks. Picture: Steve Adams

File picture of alcoholic drinks. Picture: Steve Adams

Hundreds of people have voiced fears that children are being exposed to drug and alcohol abuse in the region, new figures reveal.

Children’s charity NSPCC has seen a 23pc surge in the number of calls about substance of abuse in the east of England - up from 763 in 2013/2014 to more than 930 in 2015/2016.

In the last three years, the charity’s help line has received more than 2,700 calls - 2,422 of which were referred on to agencies including the police and children’s services.

Calls to the help line jumped from 763 in 2013/14 to 1,005 in 2014/15, before falling slightly to 937 in 2015/2016.

The figures have been published at the start of Children of Alcoholics Week, which runs until Saturday and aims to raise awareness of the hardship of children in the care of those with substance abuse problems.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, 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 help line.

“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.”

He said everyone “has a duty to look out for potential signs of distress”.

To mark the week, the NSPCC has released a handful of calls, including one about a father whose partner had recently died.

“He has stopped going to work and isn’t doing much with himself apart from drinking away,” the caller said.

“I’ve noticed the children aren’t going to school regularly anymore or being fed properly. Most of the furniture in the house is smashed up and I don’t think it’s suitable for children to be living in.”

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

• Do you have a story we should be writing about? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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